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Turkish leader says no reason why he should not visit Germany

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that Ankara is in favor of cordial relations with the European Union, Germany in particular.

“We want to have good relations with the EU and with EU countries,” Erdogan told journalists accompanying him on a visit to Africa.

Erdogan pointed out that there was “no reason” why he should not make visits to Germany despite ongoing differences between the two countries.

Sticking points

Turkey and Germany are at odds over a host of issues triggered by the July 2016 abortive coup against the government in Ankara. An ongoing post-coup crackdown and the arrest of German citizens have led to a diplomatic crisis.

Turkey accuses the EU of harboring anti-Ankara “terrorist” organizations. Germany’s support for opponents of the Turkish government and its objection to a controversial referendum in Turkey in April, which gave Erdogan new sweeping powers, are other sticking points.

Before the referendum, local authorities cancelled several pro-Erdogan campaigns in Germany and the Netherlands which have a huge Turkish diaspora, eliciting anger among Ankara’s officials.

To add insult to injury, Germany vowed to restrict business with Turkey and take actions to end or suspend Ankara’s talks for EU accession. Erdogan, in response, likened the current German government to the Nazi-era leadership.

Common grounds

In the recent conciliatory remarks published in Turkish newspapers including the Hurriyet daily on Thursday, Erdogan said he hoped for a better relationship with EU countries and Germany.

“I always say this. We must reduce the number of enemies and increase the number of friends,” he said.

Erdogan praised the current German government for standing up against US President’s Donald Trump in his controversial decision earlier this month to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as most key EU leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and EU foreign policy director Federica Mogherini, said they do not support Trump’s decision.

Erdogan, who has threatened to close Turkey’s embassy in Tel Aviv, pointed out that EU’s decision over Jerusalem al-Quds could be helpful in creating common grounds for better relations with Ankara’s government.

The Turkish leader announced recently that Ankara would make efforts to gain help from other countries to stop Trump’s initiative and open an embassy for the state of Palestine in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Erdogan said he may be taking a trip to France to gain support for the Palestinians. “They (Macron and EU officials) did not leave us by ourselves on this issue,” he said.

He said he might also go to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, who was strongly supportive of the Palestinians.

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