President Erdogan criticizes statements by German officials

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strongly criticized statements by German officials aimed at scaring off financiers interested in investing in his country.

“I strongly condemn statements that aim to scare companies that invest in our country,” Erdogan said on Friday.

Erdogan, however, downplayed Berlin’s overall political and economic power.

“You are not powerful enough to scare us,” he said.

Erdogan’s comments came after Berlin’s officials advised Germans not to travel to Turkey due to what they described as Turkey’s unpredictable situation and tarnished human rights record.

“We need to tell people: ‘You travel to Turkey at your own risk, we can’t guarantee you anything anymore,’” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said as quoted by the Bild newspaper on Friday.

Meanwhile, a Turkish court on Friday issued new arrest warrants for four activists previously detained but then released in a controversial case that has intensified tensions between Turkey and Germany.

The four were among 10 people detained earlier this month in a raid by police on a workshop session of human rights activists held on an island off Istanbul.

A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered six of the human rights activists, among them German citizen Peter Steudtner and Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, be remanded in custody on charges of aiding a “terror” group.

Detained German human rights activist Peter Steudtner (file photo)

The four others were then temporarily released.

However, Turkish media reported an Istanbul court had issued new arrest warrants for the four, Nalan Erkem, Seyhmus Ozbekli, Nejat Tastan and Ilknur Ustun, after granting an appeal from prosecutors against their release.

It was not immediately clear if they had been re-arrested yet.

Relations between Turkey and Germany, which is home to three million ethnic Turks, have been badly strained over what Europeans claim to be Ankara’s disregard for human rights.

German-Turkish relations have been getting worse over the past year since the coup attempt of July 2016 in Turkey and Ankara’s crackdown on opposition since then.

Turkey is angry at Germany for granting asylum to officers Turkey says were behind the failed coup.

Berlin, for its part, has toughened its stance toward Ankara following the arrests of 22 German citizens who have been taken into custody in the ensuing crackdown. Nine of those are still in jail, including the rights activist jailed this week and journalists Deniz Yucel and Mesale Tolu.

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