Minister sigmar gabriel (SPD) has caused uncertainty with a critical statement on turkey tourism.
A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry stressed on friday that the ministry was not currently preparing a formal travel warning for turkey, despite gabriel’s public advice. However, the travel advice, which had only recently been tightened, was continuously updated. She stressed that gabriel had not used the word "warning" in his interview with the "bild" newspaper either. It is up to each citizen to decide whether or not to travel to turkey at the moment.
When asked whether he was currently recommending that burghers go on vacation to turkey, gabriel had replied: "you can’t do that with a clear conscience at the moment."At the same time, he stressed: "as a state, we can’t take the decision away from anyone."Some burghers, however, apparently understood gabriel’s rebuke as a travel warning. The ministry of foreign affairs reported that inquiries had increased since then. The background to gabriel’s concerns is the tense domestic political situation in turkey and the recent arrests of germans in the vacation destination.
Turkey’s prime minister, binali yildirim, accused gabriel of impoliteness on friday and advised him to "mind his own business," according to the state news agency anadolu. In warsaw, auben minister mevlut cavusoglu stressed the importance of german-turkish relations and advised germany to be careful in its relations with turkey. Populism before the election benefits no one.
The foreign office only warns against travel to a country if there is an "acute danger to life and limb", for example because there is a war there or the risk of kidnapping is very high for foreigners. The warnings include an urgent appeal to refrain from traveling to this country. Travel warnings are rarely issued. Currently, for example, travel to syria, somalia and afghanistan is being warned against.
Turkey is in a completely different league from these states in terms of security. Although there have been terrorist attacks on tourists there in the past two years – in front of the hagia sophia and at istanbul airport. But tourists have also been victims of islamist terrorists in france, great britain, spain and germany.
After the arrest of the german human rights activist peter steudtner at the beginning of july, the german government took a tougher line against turkey and tightened the official travel advice. But it merely warns holidaymakers to be careful; it advises them to register with the embassy for safety’s sake. In the meantime, ten german citizens are in custody on political charges.
Gabriel sent a political message with his appeal to the "conscience" of holidaymakers. He raises a question that many germans have been asking themselves this summer anyway: should we boycott turkey as a vacation destination – as a silent protest, so to speak, against president recep tayyip erdogan, who harasses political opponents, insults critical journalists such as deniz yucel as spies, and slanders german politicians?. However: in vacation regions such as antalya, izmir and istanbul, erdogan and the ruling AKP party did not achieve majorities in the constitutional referendum in april.
Sevim dagdelen of the left-wing parliamentary group in the bundestag wants gabriel to raise questions not only as a private citizen. It said that in dealing with turkey, it must act as a foreign minister "and issue a formal travel warning for turkey.".
The fact that the german government wants to avoid further escalation despite the massive problems in relations with ankara also has to do with the EU-turkey agreement on the acceptance of refugees and irregular migrants, which has been in force since 2016. Moreover, every new dispute with the turkish government causes irritation among the germans with turkish roots.
Whoever voices clear criticism of turkey in view of the current tensions can, however, score points with the voters, according to a poll. One month before the federal election, a majority of the population is in favor of a tougher stance against the government in ankara. The latest "ZDF-politbarometer" from friday shows: about 72 percent of all eligible voters are in favor of germany exerting more economic pressure on turkey. Only 22 percent of those surveyed were against it.