Turkish president accuses Germany of scaring off investors

MarketsAssociated Press

Turkey's president accused Germany of trying to scare off investors from his country after Berlin toughened its stance toward Ankara following the arrest of human rights activists including a German national.

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A day after the German government told German citizens traveling to Turkey to exercise caution and threatened to withhold backing for investments, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was defiant.

"I strongly condemn statements that aim to scare companies that invest in our country," Erdogan said.

"I want to remind our German friends and the world that you are not powerful enough to blacken Turkey," he added. "You are not powerful enough to scare us."

On Thursday, Germany's economy minister, Brigitte Zypries, said that if German companies "suddenly show up on 'black lists' and are branded as terror supporters, then that is a climate that makes further business and investments in Turkey extremely difficult."

Erdogan said he had checked with intelligence and interior ministry officials, who confirmed that no German company was under investigation.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim struck a more conciliatory tone earlier Friday, saying that Turkey continues to regard Germany as a "strategic partner in Europe."

"From time to time, there may be tensions in the relations due to considerations caused by domestic politics," Yildirim said. "My call from here is to act with cool-headedness. There is no benefit to Germany or to Turkey if relations are damaged."

In Berlin, Germany's Economy Ministry said it's putting all applications for the export of defense equipment to Turkey under examination. It gave no details, but said exports worth 83.9 million euros ($97 million) were approved last year and another 22 million euros-worth in this year's first four months.

German-Turkish relations have been souring for over a year since last July's coup attempt in Turkey. Twenty-two German citizens have been taken into custody in the ensuing crackdown. Nine of those are still in jail, including Peter Steudtner — the rights activist jailed this week — and journalists Deniz Yucel and Mesale Tolu.

In turn, Turkey accuses Germany of backing terror groups for granting asylum to officers Turkey says were behind the failed coup.