Turkey condemns German reluctance on customs union expansion

Posted August 20, 2017

Akhanli was born in Turkey but emigrated to Germany in 1991 after spending years in Turkish prisons following the 1984 military coup in the country.

Turkey says the YPG is indistinguishable from the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey for more than 30 years. Ties between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the United States have been strained by Washington's support for Kurdish YPG fighters leading the assault on Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The Customs Union agreement between Turkey and the EU entered into force in 1995 and covers all industrial goods but does not include agriculture, services or public procurement. Green party parliamentarian Volker Beck said the arrest warrant was Erdogan's attempt "to extend his power beyond the borders of his country to intimidate his critics and to pursue them all over the world".

Erdogan had a day earlier caused consternation in Berlin by urging ethnic Turks in Germany to vote against both parties in Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition.

"Teach them a lesson in the German elections", he said.

There are an estimated three million people of Turkish origin in Germany.

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Ankara has also criticized Berlin for failing to demonstrate strong solidarity with the Turkish people in the wake of the defeated coup in July 2016, that left 250 people martyred and some 2,200 injured. "Forgive me but you have your legal system and so do we", Erdoğan said.

Germany has urged Spain not to extradite German writer Dogan Akhanli to Turkey after he was arrested on a Turkish warrant. It was not clear why.

Merkel rebuked his remarks, saying Erdogan was "meddling" in German affairs and said, "German voters, including the ones with Turkish background, have a right to vote freely".

Ozdemir had previously pressed Ankara to recognise the World War I killings of Armenians as genocide.

But Erdogan is also popular with Turks living in Germany, and 59 percent of the votes cast by Turkish citizens resident in Germany went to his ruling party in November 2015 parliamentary polls.