(Adds background, quote on Incirlik)
BERLIN, Sept 7 Germany said on Wednesday it
regarded press freedom as crucial after German broadcaster
Deutsche Welle complained that Turkey had confiscated the
recording of an interview with a minister at his office in
The head of Deutsche Welle on Tuesday described the seizure
of the tape of an interview with Turkish Youth and Sports
Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic as a "blatant violation of press
The tape incident further adds to strains in ties between
Germany and Turkey at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel needs
Ankara's help in managing Europe's migrant crisis. Her critics
accuse Merkel of turning a blind eye to Turkey's human rights
record to ensure Ankara's cooperation.
A German foreign ministry spokesman said Berlin's ambassador
to Ankara had held "good and constructive" talks with a senior
official in the sports minister's office and that they agreed
the incident should not enflame tensions between the countries.
"(The ambassador) made clear that for us, for him, for the
German government and German media, press freedom is very
important," the spokesman told a regular news conference.
Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert added: "Press freedom is
for us ... non-negotiable. We behave (according to this
principle) at home and we represent it abroad."
Following a failed military coup in Turkey on July 15,
Germany has expressed concern over the scale of President Tayyip
Erdogan's purges of tens of thousands of officials, judges,
soldiers and others believed to have supported the putsch.
Turkey has also shut many media outlets.
Germany and the European Union fear Erdogan is using public
anger among Turks over the coup to crack down on dissent.
Deutsche Welle reporter Michel Friedman had asked the
minister about the attempted coup, the subsequent mass
dismissals and arrests and the media situation before the tape
was confiscated, the broadcaster said.
Even before the coup tensions between Ankara and Berlin were
running high after Erdogan took legal action against a German
comedian who ridiculed him as well as over a resolution adopted
by the German parliament in June declaring the 1915 massacre of
Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces a "genocide".
Berlin is also embroiled in a row with Turkey over whether
its lawmakers can visit 250 Bundeswehr soldiers stationed at
Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Turkey had banned the visit after
the Armenian resolution.
The foreign ministry spokesman said Berlin hoped German
lawmakers could soon visit the soldiers.
"Any other outcome would surprise me," the spokesman said.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Michael Nienaber; Editing
by Gareth Jones)