Monday 06 April, 2020

Criticism flies as German foreign minister meets Erdogan

Published: 16 November 2016 Wednesday, 10:02  PM

Criticism flies as German foreign minister meets Erdogan

Bonn, Nov 16 ( -- Criticism flew as Germany`s foreign minister visited Turkey Tuesday, with the hosts accusing Germany of failing to support its ally during this year`s attempted coup and Germany firing back that a post-coup crackdown had gone too far.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had only planned to meet his counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, during the visit, but was surprised when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced at the last minute that they also wanted to see him.

But it did not appear to be a fun-filled return to Turkey for Steinmeier, who had not visited the country for more than a year. Erdogan`s face was icy as he shook Steinmeier`s hand. Cavusoglu accused Germany of harbouring Kurdish militants locked in fighting with the Turkish army.

But Steinmeier did not take the lectures lightly. He noted that the West continues to be worried by the post-coup crackdown, which has seen thousands imprisoned or pushed out of their jobs, even as civil liberties have been curtailed.

"Please don`t take this in Turkey as arrogance, nor as lecturing from above," he said. In a further defiant gesture, Steinmeier bookended his official meeting with opposition politicians and human rights and freedom of speech campaigners.

Nonetheless, he put a positive spin on the meeting when it was done.

"It`s clear that the differences in opinion are not going to be cleared away with one visit and a couple of conversations," he said. "Nonetheless, it is good to have travelled, to get your own picture of the lay of the land, as well as in conversations with the opposition and civil society."

He said direct contact was better than trading accusations through the media.

Turkey has bristled under Western criticism of its moves to purge thousands of government employees after the attempted coup, saying the West seems willing to overlook an attempt to oust the government of a NATO ally.

Human rights campaigners and supporters of the opposition have accused the Turkish government of using the attempted coup and the campaign against terrorism as an excuse to silence critics and settle old scores.