Angela Merkel plans to reduce economic cooperation with Turkey in a bid to secure the release of German citizens detained by Ankara, according to German media.
“We will have to further reduce our economic cooperation with Turkey and put ongoing projects under scrutiny,” Merkel told local newspaper Passauer Neue Presse. However, she said that breaking off communication with Ankara would “lead to absolutely nothing.”
Relations between Berlin and Ankara have deteriorated dramatically over the past two years, and arrests of German citizens caught up in a wave of arrests in Turkey since a failed coup attempt have fueled tensions. Some 54 German citizens are being held in Turkey, according to German media. Of those, 12 are considered political prisoners, according to the German government.
Berlin is doing all it can to press for the release of the German detainees, Merkel said, but “Turkey is making that difficult in several cases.” Officials from Germany’s foreign affairs ministry, for instance, cannot make another visit to journalist Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish national and reporter for Die Welt newspaper, who was detained in February.
The government has been complaining for weeks that officials don’t have unimpeded access to the prisoners.
Merkel earlier this month told the German parliament that Berlin would push the European Union to reconsider its relationship with Turkey — including whether to suspend or terminate accession talks — at a summit of EU leaders in October. “I will advocate for a determined course of action on the question,” Merkel said.