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Turkiye, Germany ministers argue over policies in tense news conference

July 29, 2022 at 8:37 pm

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkiye on 27 June 2022 [Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish and German Foreign Ministers argued over a range of issues in a tense and drawn-out news conference on Friday, trading barbs over disputes between Ankara and Athens, jailed Turkish philanthropist, Osman Kavala and Kurdish militants, Reuters reports.

The news conference, which began an hour later than scheduled and ran for an hour, started off with calm remarks by the two ministers, but became increasingly testy as they criticised each other’s policies.

Turkiye’s Mevlut Cavusoglu said Germany had lost its impartiality in mediating between Turkiye, Greece and Cyprus, adding that it should listen to all sides without prejudice.

“Third countries, including Germany, should not be a tool to provocation and propaganda especially by Greece and the Greek Cypriot side,” he said during the news conference in Istanbul.

Relations between Athens and Ankara are strained over a raft of issues ranging from over-flights to competing claims for offshore waters.

Cyprus, which was partitioned in 1974 when Turkiye invaded its northern third in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup, is a main point of division.

Germany’s Annalena Baerbock said issues cannot be solved in the eastern Mediterranean by increasing tensions.

Baerbock later turned attention to philanthropist, Kavala, and called on Turkiye to implement rulings by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Turkiye: Philanthropist says political pressure led to life sentence ruling

“It is my responsibility as Foreign Minister to respect and defend rulings of the ECHR, without exception and at all times,” she said, adding that Kavala should be freed.

The ECHR said this month that Turkiye had not implemented the 2019 ruling over Kavala, as part of infringement proceedings, which could see Ankara suspended from the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog.

Cavusoglu responded by saying Greece, Norway and Germany had also not implemented other rulings by the ECHR and accused Germany of funding Kavala. Kavala was sentenced to life in prison, without parole, in April on charges of financing 2013 nationwide “Gezi” protests in what rights groups say was a political trial.

“Why do you constantly bring up Osman Kavala? Because you are using Osman Kavala against Turkiye. We know how much he was funded during the Gezi events,” Cavusoglu said.

The ECHR ruled in 2019 that Kavala’s detention aimed to silence him and evidence was not enough to support the charges against him.

Cavusoglu also criticised Berlin for “embracing” Kurdish militants. Baerbock said Germany, as well as the European Union, treats the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, as a terrorist organisation.