Germany concerned over damage of German-Turkish ties

Indo Asian News Service

Berlin, March 25 (IANS) A warning by German new President Frank-Walter Steinmeier indicated "an unprecedented degree of concern" about the damage of the German-Turkish ties, an expert has said.

"On the other hand, one of Steinmeier's key messages is that he wants to be the President of all Germans, including German citizens of Turkish origin," Xinhua news agency quoted Michael Mertes, Chief speechwriter of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, as saying.

Mertes told Xinhua that there had been several occasions in the past when German Presidents "felt an urge to resort to tough rhetoric".

Steinmeier, who was sworn in German President on Wednesday, in his inaugural speech called on Turkey to stop comparing Berlin to Nazis and issued the warning against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Credible signals to ease tensions are welcome... But end the unspeakable Nazi comparisons. Do not cut the ties to those people who want partnership with Turkey. Respect the rule of law and the freedom of media and journalists. And release Deniz Yucel," Steinmeier said.

Deniz Yucel is a Turkish-German journalist, detained in Turkey since January on charges of terrorist propaganda and incitement to hatred.

German public opinion poll claimed that Steinmeier was able to speak on behalf of an overwhelming majority of the German voters -- between 80 and 90 per cent.

Asked whether the President's remarks signal a harder line on Erdogan, Mertes said, "Let's wait and see what happens on April 16 (when the referendum is held) and thereafter.

"It's up to Erdogan to clean up the mess he has caused. I am sure Germany will not reject an offer from Erdogan to make up for that damage, and to return to normal," Mertes said.

Erdogan is in the midst of campaigning for a referendum, set for April 16, which would considerably strengthen Erdogan's powers. The dispute began when Germany prevented Turkish politicians from campaigning on its soil.

There are around 1.4 million Turks in Germany who are eligible to vote in the referendum and these votes could prove vital.