Germany’s new approach to Turkey ‘out of question’: Erdogan spokesman

 The spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday condemned Germany’s decision to toughen its stance on Turkey.

In televised remarks, Ibrahim Kalin commented on Berlin’s decision to reset relations with Turkey, including warning its citizens and companies about visiting or investing in the country.

“It is out of the question,” Kalin said, referring to German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s claims that German nationals risked arrest if traveling to Turkey. “We strongly condemn it.”

On Thursday, German opposition lawmakers sought a tougher approach to Turkey following the arrests of German citizens for allegedly supporting terrorist organizations.

Kalin, speaking at a news conference in Ankara, said Germany’s new position was dictated by domestic politics, with elections due in September.

“We believe those unfortunate remarks are investments for internal politics in the upcoming elections in Germany,” he told journalists.

The spokesman added that Germany was a key trade partner for Turkey. “Has there been any investigation so far into a German company in Turkey?” he asked.

Promising that Turkey would not allow “efforts to overshadow economic relations” for political reasons, he added: “Bringing doubt into the minds of German investors in Turkey is unacceptable.”

Kalin also addressed rising tensions in Jerusalem, where heightened security measures around Al-Aqsa Mosque have led to clashes between Israeli security forces and Muslim worshippers.

“We have great concerns,” he said, stressing that such purported security or counter-terrorism restrictions were “unacceptable”.

Referring to Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, who was injured by a plastic bullet on Tuesday as police dispersed worshippers, Kalin added: “It is inhuman. They just want to pray in their holy place.”

He underlined that the mosque — the third holiest site in Islam — was not the “property of Israel”.

– US terror report

The spokesman also criticized a recent U.S. State Department report on terrorism that mentioned the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which Turkey holds responsible for last year’s defeated coup, but failed to explain the group.

“We care about it,” he said. “However, we should say the report fails in explaining FETO’s nature.”

According to the U.S. Country Reports on Terrorism: “Turkey’s National Security Council designated the religious movement of self-exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen a terrorist organization on May 26, referring to it as the ‘Fethullah Terrorist Organization’ (‘FETO’).

“The government asserts that the Gulen movement planned and led the July 15 coup attempt, which killed more than 240 people and injured more than 2,100 people, and included attacks on the parliament.

“The government instituted a three-month state of emergency on July 21, subsequently extending it another three months on Oct. 19.

“According to government sources, as of Nov. 22, more than 86,000 civil servants were dismissed from public service via government-issued state of emergency decrees following the coup attempt for their alleged affiliation with, or support of, ‘FETO’.

“As of Oct. 8, authorities had arrested nearly 35,000 suspects on charges related to Gulen affiliation. The Gulf Cooperation Council designated ‘FETO’ a terrorist organization on Oct. 13. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation did the same on Oct. 19.”

Ankara has accused FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen of having plotted the coup attempt, which martyred 250 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.

FETO is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

Kalin reiterated Turkey’s expectation that the U.S. and European countries would extradite FETO members, including Gulen.

Erdogan will begin a tour of Gulf nations on Sunday, his spokesman added, meeting the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

Pointing to Turkey’s efforts to find a solution to the crisis between Qatar and neighboring states, he said the “constructive roles of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are significant.”