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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has denounced Turkey’s move to arrest two more German citizens, pledging a more decisive reaction or perhaps reconsideration of Berlin’s relations with Ankara.
“Considering today’s events, perhaps we need to reconsider further’’ German policy toward Turkey, Merkel told a business group in the southern city of Nuremberg on Friday.
“This has nothing at all to do with our sense of the rule of law,” she added.
Amid the escalation of tensions between Turkey and Germany, Merkel’s government announced a “reorientation” of policy toward Turkey after a human-rights advocate was taken into custody in Istanbul earlier this year.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in August called mainstream German political parties, including Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party, “enemies of Turkey” who deserve to be rejected by German-Turkish voters
In her sharpest response yet to the tensions, Merkel called Erdogan’s statements “unacceptable” and said it was not appropriate to carry out more talks about Ankara’s participation in a European Union customs union.
“For me, further talks on expanding the customs union are out of the question under these circumstances,” the German chancellor said.
In the latest string of arrests of European citizens that have put relations with Ankara under unprecedented strain, two German citizens have been arrested in Turkey for what Berlin believes are “political” reasons, a spokeswoman for the German government said on Friday.
She added that her country was not officially informed of the detentions, which took place at Antalya airport on Thursday, explaining that Berlin’s consulate in the coastal city of Izmir obtained information from “non-state sources.”
European leaders have been critical of Erdogan over his government’s crackdown on opponents following last year’s botched military coup in the country.
The Turkish president has also come under fire for holding a referendum to expand his presidential powers.
Merkel’s remarks followed a series of fiery exchanges between the leaders of the two countries. Germany has repeatedly criticized Turkey’s crackdown on those suspected of involvement in the coup, saying the Turkish government has acted beyond the rule of law.
Ankara in response, has accused Berlin of sheltering outlawed Kurdish militants and allowing their sympathizers to stage anti-Turkey rallies across Germany.
Erdogan stirred more tensions between the two sides in August, when he accused Berlin of Nazi-like behavior and urged the three million or so Turkish nationals living in Germany to vote against the German chancellor in the country’s September federal election.