BERLIN (Reuters) - The German government on Friday sought to contain a further erosion of ties with Turkey after it banned political appearances by President Tayyip Erdogan outside the G20 summit, a move Ankara said amounted to double standards.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel defended the move given serious differences between the two allies over a range of issues, including the jailing of a German-Turkish journalist, but said Germany remained committed to mending ties with Turkey.
He also said he believed Germany should have responded with more “emotional” solidarity to last year’s failed coup attempt in Turkey, a point repeatedly made by Turkish leaders.
“I think we made a mistake,” he said.
“There are big differences that aren’t easy to overcome, but I want to say this expressly, we are looking forward to President Erdogan’s visit to the G20 summit,” Gabriel said.
Turkey lashed out on Thursday at German politicians for opposing Erdogan’s planned public appearances in Germany.
“It is regrettable that some politicians in Germany are making unacceptable comments with domestic political calculations,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Huseyin Muftuoglu, said in a statement.
Gabriel said Germany did not want to see Turkish domestic conflicts played out among the 3 million people of Turkish descent in Germany.
Turkey is frustrated about Germany’s refusal to extradite military officers and others who have sought asylum in Germany. Gabriel says those requests must be handled on a case-by-case basis, according to German law.
He said Germany’s decision to ban political speeches by politicians from all non-European Union member states for three months before elections in those countries mirrored similar restrictions in place for German politicians at home.
“We have no interest in escalation, but we also have to be sure that our peaceful coexistence isn’t threatened,” he said.
Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, told a government news conference he had no information indicating that Erdogan would not attend the G20 summit next week in Hamburg.
“President Erdogan is an important guest for us and we welcome his participation in the G20 summit,” Seibert said.
Editing by Victoria Bryan and Janet Lawrence