UPDATE – Erdogan urges fresh start in Turkish-German relations

ADDS MORE COMMENTS FROM ERDOGAN, EDITS THROUGHOUT

By Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN (AA) – Turkey’s president has called for opening a fresh page in Turkish-German relations amid an era of new global challenges.

“The dramatic developments in the world make it indispensable for both Germany and Turkey to open a new page in bilateral relations, to leave aside their differences and focus on their common interests,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote in an article published Wednesday in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the eve of his arrival in Germany.

Erdogan said both countries face similar challenges and threats such as terrorism, irregular refugee movements and trade wars.

“We are obliged to enhance our relations based on our mutual interests, in a reasonable way,” he stressed.

“Let us concentrate on our common interests, the common challenges and threats we face. With respect to our disagreements, we should keep all dialogue channels open, continue our exchanges, and by showing maximum empathy, we should try to understand our mutual sensitivities,” he added.

Erdogan will arrive in Germany on Thursday for a high-profile state visit aiming to improve political and economic ties between the two countries.

During his three-day visit, Erdogan will meet his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier and will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In his article, President Erdogan renewed his call on German authorities to show more solidarity with Turkey in its fight against outlawed and terrorist groups.

“We expect Germany to extend its support to Turkey in its fight against terrorist groups such as FETO, PKK and DHKP-C, which are also a threat to Germany’s domestic security and target German citizens,” he said.

He also warned against the propaganda activities of PKK and FETO followers in Germany.

“The PKK and FETO members and their organizations are using various instruments, including manipulations and fake news, to sabotage our bilateral relations,” he said.

Germany’s reluctance to take serious measures against terrorist groups such as the PKK and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) has been a source of tension between the two countries in the last two years.

Both terrorist groups use Germany, which is home to more than 3 million migrants from Turkey, as a platform for their propaganda fundraising and recruitment activities.

Relations between Ankara and Berlin have suffered setbacks in past years, but both sides have taken steps in recent months towards improving ties.

Erdogan will be accompanied by key aides during his visit, including the ministers responsible for the economy, finance, trade, and industry.

EU heavyweight Germany remains Turkey’s main economic and trade partner. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached €37.6 billion ($43.6 billion).

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