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Turkey's Erdogan accuses Germany of 'abetting terrorists'

Posted August 8

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Germany of "abetting terrorists" amid a widening spat between Ankara and Berlin.

Speaking at a conference in the Black Sea province of Rize, Erdogan said Turkey had given German Chancellor Angela Merkel "4,500 dossiers but have not received an answer on a single one of them."

"When there is a terrorist, they can tell us to give that person back. You won't send the ones you have to us, but can ask us for yours. So you have a judiciary, but we don't in Turkey?" he said, according to Reuters.

Relations between Germany and Turkey have deteriorated in recent months after Merkel questioned Turkey's commitment to democracy and the rule of law, while Erdogan suggested Germany's Nazi past might not be entirely behind it.

Deteriorating ties

Last month, Turkey arrested a group of activists including a Turkish-German journalist and the head of Amnesty International Turkey in a widely condemned crackdown on civil society.

In the wake of last year's coup attempt, Erdogan has tightened his grip on power while overseeing a massive purge of those who he says rose up against him.

The primary target of the crackdown has been supporters of exiled Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen, who Erdogan accuses of masterminding efforts to remove him.

Over the past 12 months his government has clamped down on civil liberties across Turkey, gutted public institutions and universities, heavily restricted the media and ordered mass arrests.

In the wake of the July arrests, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel blasted Erdogan, saying what was happening in Turkey "is blatantly obvious."

"Someone who detains law-abiding visitors to their country on the basis of outlandish, indeed absurd, accusations and throws them into prison has left European values behind," Gabriel said.

He also warned Germans against traveling to Turkey and suggested Berlin would review corporate investments in the country.

Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert and associate fellow at Chatham House, said Erdogan may have overplayed his hand when it comes to Germany, which is the country's largest trading partner.

"It is likely, though not guaranteed, that in the short-to-medium term, Erdogan will employ fiery rhetoric to set the stage for an eventual climbdown. He still retains some pragmatism and flexibility, and seems to appreciate the importance of Germany to Turkey's economic stability," he wrote for CNN Opinion last month.

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