ISTANBUL: Germany has no right to interfere in Turkey’s domestic affairs, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, his latest broadside in a blistering row sparked by the waves of arrests under the current state of emergency.

Several German nationals are among those being held and Berlin has warned its citizens that their safety cannot be guaranteed in Turkey and that consular access is not assured in case of arrest.

Throwing away any pretence at diplomatic nuance, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had also warned German firms against investment in Turkey and spoke of an “overhaul” of the entire relationship.

“Turkey is a social democratic state based on law and no one has the right to interfere in its internal affairs,” said Erdogan before heading off on a trip to the Gulf.

Addressing Gabriel’s comments, he said: “We (Turkey and Germany) are together in Nato. We (Turkey) are in negotiations to join the EU.

“So the strategic partnership between us is nothing new. We have been partners for a long time. No step should be taken to overshadow this partnership,” he added.

In an interview with the daily Bild, however, Germany’s powerful finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, warned Erdogan that he was “jeopardising the centuries-old partnership between Turkey and Germany”.

“It is truly dramatic — there is actually so much that connects us. But we will not be blackmailed,” he said, according to extracts of the interview to be published on Monday.

The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) estimated that the prevailing uncertainty would likely wipe two billion euros ($2.3 billon) off bilateral trade, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported.

Turkey remains under a state of emergency imposed days after last year’s July 15 failed coup which critics claim is being used to go after any opponent of Erdogan. The authorities say the emergency is needed for public security.

The latest crisis was precipitated by the order of a Turkish court to remand in custody a group of human rights activists detained on an island off Istanbul, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser and Berlin-based activist Peter Steudtner.

But Berlin was already furious over the jailing in February of Deniz Yucel, Turkey correspondent for Die Welt newspaper, who Erdogan has personally denounced as a “terror agent”.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2017

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