Turkey, German amid normalization process
The German government wants to better forge communication channels with Ankara on security issues by organizing consultation meetings amid signs of normalization in bilateral ties in recent months. Daily Sabah reports in its article Turkey, Germany cooperate in fight against terrorism amid normalization process that a spokeswoman for the office of German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière stressed in a response to a question by the Welt the "need for close cooperation with Turkey in what we understand by terrorism." Germany was "the starting point and destination of terrorists whose travel routes lead to and from Syria via Turkey."Moreover, Turkey has "repeatedly been the victim of massive attacks by terrorists until very recently." Most recently, security consultations took place in February 2017 on the sidelines of a state visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Turkey.
Germany has recently increased the number of investigations into suspected supporters of the PKK. The number of preliminary proceedings launched against suspects has increased from 15 in 2013 to 130 in 2017, a spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor's Office told a German news agency yesterday. While in 2014 and 2015 there were more than 20 trials each year for membership in or support for the PKK, in 2016 the number doubled to 40, the spokesman said. The spokesman did not specify how often the cases resulted in sentencing for those accused.
The latest trial starts on Wednesday in the upper regional court in the northern city of Celle where a 43-year-old Turkish national faces charges of being a regional representative of the PKK for the city of Oldenburg in Lower Saxony. The man is also accused of being linked to the planning and execution of travel to northern Iraq and the recruitment of PKK fighters. If found guilty of supporting a terrorist organization, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
Having seen relations hit rock bottom over the course of the last one-and-a-half years, the two sides are seemingly taking another step forward with this move. Indeed, the efforts of the foreign ministers of the two countries played a key role in the normalization process. While Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu hosted his counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in October in Antalya, Gabriel hosted Çavuşoğlu in Germany's Goslar city.
Furthermore, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to invite German Chancellor Merkel to Turkey or travel to Germany once the government is formed in Germany. "If Germany forms a new government, Erdoğan will either invite Merkel to Turkey, or he might go to Germany. We should maintain dialogue," Çavuşoğlu said last week. "We want to do everything for a better atmosphere," he added. "A new year has begun. And it will be a good year. The meeting with my dear friend Sigmar [Gabriel, the German foreign minister] was very positive, very constructive. We had tensions with Germany. Through our efforts, we see rapprochement between Germany and Turkey. Germany has always been our closest ally," Çavuşoğlu also said.
In the wake of the release of German human rights activist Peter Steudtner and two other German nationals whose name were not disclosed, German citizen Meşale Tolu was released last month. However, German journalist Deniz Yücel has remained in pretrial detention since last year. The German government is paying great attention to his release. Berlin has been criticizing Ankara on human rights issues. On the other hand, the Turkish government has levied harsh criticism on Berlin for harboring terrorists, providing them safe haven and showing unwillingness for extraditions. It is angered about Berlin's indifference towards the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group.