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Turkey's Erdogan to make state visit to Germany

Saturday July 28, 2018

There is an endless number of problems and issues for German and Turkish leaders to discuss. Yet some in Germany may criticize rolling out the red carpet for the authoritarian Turkish leader.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will come to Berlin in late September for his first official state visit to Germany in four years, Bild newspaper reported on Saturday.

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It would be Erdogan's first state visit to Germany since he became president in 2014 and moved to cement his control over Turkey through a controversial referendum last year granting him sweeping powers.

The planned visit, which Bild reported based on Turkish and German official sources, would include a military honor guard and state banquet. Neither government has confirmed the report.

Dismantling rule of law

The red carpet treatment would come months after Erdogan's enhanced powers and the dismantling of the parliamentary system went into effect following June elections.

Turkish-German relations nosedived following the July 2016 failed coup attempt against Erdogan.

In the wake of the coup bid, the Turkish government has carried out a crackdown against real and imagined enemies, drawing concerns in Europe over the deterioration of human rights and the rule of law.

The mass arrests have caught up German nationals, including Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel and human right activist Peter Steudtner.

Escalating tensions between the two countries were somewhat eased after the release from prison of Steudtner in October last year followed that of Yücel in February.  

Much to discuss

Turkey accuses Germany of harboring followers of the Gulen movement, which Ankara blames for the coup bid. Ankara also accuses Berlin of allowing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to operate in Germany.

However, the planned visit would also come at a critical time in the civil war in Syria as the Assad regime regains control over large swaths of territory.

The regime's offensives could next pit it against Turkey, which has carved out zones of influence in the north of Syria and taken in more than 3.5 million refugees.

Turkey is key to the European Union's efforts to prevent uncontrolled migration from reaching the bloc.

Separately, the visit would come as Turkey's economy is under severe pressure, with double digit inflation, a widening current account deficit and a 20 percent loss of value in the lira since the start of the year.

Germany and Turkey are major trade and investment partners. Erdogan will therefore be looking for signs of an improved relationship with Germany to give a boost to fading international confidence in thebeleaguered Turkish economy.

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