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‘Can Dündar’ tension between Ankara and Berlin before Merkel’s visit to Turkey

An invitation for Turkish journalist Can Dündar as a speaker to a new year reception by Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Heiko Maas strained the relations once again just before German Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Turkey.

A new tension arose between Ankara and Berlin right before German Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Turkey next week according to Alman DW.COM. A very strong reaction by Turkish government was expressed when Can Dündar was invited to the New Year reception as a speaker by Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Heiko Haas. Ankara trough diplomacy has informed their discomfort with this incident.

From Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Heiko Maas, invited the former Editor-in-Chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper Can Dündar to the New Year reception in order to display his support to the democracy and the press freedom in Turkey. We are informed that Can Dündar will give a speech regarding the press freedom under the light of the most recent political developments in Turkey.

Ankara’s message: we found it odd

Turkey expressed a strong reaction to the invitation of Mr. Dündar to the reception as the main speaker by Minister Maas. According to DW Turkish, Turkish Foreign Minister ordained the German Ambassador to Ankara to its office to relay its message: Turkish government finds the invitation very odd at a time when Chancellor will be visiting.

Turkish side reminded the charge d’affaires that Can Dündar got a prison sentence in Turkey and there is an arrest warrant for him, conveying the message that in spite of all these, such an invitation for him as the main speaker in the reception is very strange.

Turkish Ambassador to Berlin won’t be attending the reception. 

Turkish officials noted that Turkish ambassador to Berlin Ali Kemal Aydın will not be attending to the reception although he received an invitation by Federal minister of Justice Maas.

We were informed that Ambassador Aydın will be joining to the concert given at State house on that night where Bavarian state prime minister Horst Seehofer is hosting. In addition, Ambassador Aydın relayed the discomfort from Turkish government to the German officials during a meeting.

What does the Maas’ invitation mean?

The invitation of Can Dündar as the main speaker at the reception by Minister Maas is perceived as a demonstration of his strong support on the democracy, the freedom of speech and the press freedom in Turkey.  Minister Maas made a statement that “Freedom of the press is the basic component of democracy and the rule of law”, criticizing the existing pressure on the press in Turkey in past few months. Maas expressed that Freedom of Press not only is needed for press to maintain their existence but also provides the journalists to do their jobs without any pressure or any fear of arrest and prison sentence.

A clear attitude from German Government

Pointing out the fact that Dündar was accepted by German President Joachim Gauck previously, German officials emphasized that German government has repeatedly expressed their concerns on the recent developments regarding Freedom of press and speech, and that German government has a very clear attitude on this subject.

However, Turkish officials, considering the sensitive and difficult time Turkey is going through, mentioned such an invitation is not acceptable, and might result in straining the relations between Turkey and Germany.

Dündar has been residing in Germany with a temporary passport granted by Germany after an arrest warrant was issued against him and he was on a trial regarding a news he published in his newspaper, which was about the trucks used by Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT) to carry arms to Syrian Opposition Army.

According to German diplomatic sources, there has not been any application by Turkish officials to Germany, related to the ongoing case in Turkey. Even if there were, they pointed out that German authorities would not give a green light to such political demands.

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