MTurkey cannot accuse them of not trying. Only today did the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu travel to Germany with a delegation – including the representatives of the Ministry of Tourism. Various topics were on the agenda, including tourism.
Turkey wants to be a safe travel destination for German vacationers – and for business representatives. The trade volume between the two countries was 36 billion euros last year, Cavusoglu reminded in Berlin. There were also a few billion that brought German vacationers to Turkey.
Such sums would be urgently needed this year: According to internal data, Turkey should have a budget deficit of $ 70 billion. German tourism and German economic relations could compensate for at least half of them.
But Turkey can largely take off the money for this year. Because not only vacationers, also business representatives hardly enter at the moment. Although you are allowed to do so, you will have to go to a two-week quarantine afterwards, depending on the responsible clerk at the relevant German health authority. Many of those who want to travel are put off by this uncertainty and lack of planning.
Germany knows about Turkey’s financial hardship and has long since started a game with the Erdogan government. Under the guise of the corona pandemic, there are at least three completely different interests at stake: money, power, and retribution.
Now that President Erdogan is so dependent on foreign money, Germany has a longer lever. The worse Turkey’s economy looks, the better for German interests in the country. Without the billions from tourism and economic investment, the Turkish government and Erdogan personally will face even more difficulties than they already do – and will thus become more dependent on Germany.
It cannot be a coincidence, of course, that the car manufacturer VW just one day before the Turkish delegation visited Berlin announced that it would not build the plant in Manisa, Turkey, as planned. Even if VW had already founded a subsidiary in Turkey and seemed really interested in the deal: For a few weeks now, the German government has been adopting an unusually tough approach towards Turkey.
Power-political ambitions are closely linked to Germany’s economic interests. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) in Berlin remarkably emphasized that Germany now holds the EU Council Presidency. A position of power that should not be underestimated. Maas emphasized that Cavusoglu would be the first guest outside the EU under this presidency.
What an honor: it underscores how much Germany is interested in cooperating with Turkey. Accordingly, Maas offered Turkey to use this time to successfully deal with old issues with problems.
Maas certainly does not intend to release political prisoners or to improve the rule of law in Turkey. After all, especially after Turkey released around 90,000 prisoners from prisons as part of a comprehensive indirect amnesty, no one is still in Turkish custody, the release of which could actually benefit the German state. And to revitalize the rule of law in Turkey, the six-month presidency is probably far too short.
Germany is more about the issues that Maas listed in Berlin: Syria and Libya, which includes the situation in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkish submarines are bustling there – just as it happens to be Russian and American. It is in Germany’s interest if Turkey moves away from there – before an accident occurs.
Last but not least, it is also about retribution: for the game that Erdogan started at the beginning of March when he declared the Turkish borders open and let thousands of migrants travel in close proximity to neighboring Greece, some at state cost.
This was followed by dramatic scenes of human suffering and an internationally criticized massive border armament in Greece. In short: It was an attack by Erdogan on the European Union and an attempt to blackmail Germany.
That was a few months ago, but it has put the EU and Germany on the defensive and exposed their stance on the otherwise praised values such as human rights.
Now Germany turns the power game over and retaliates against the Turkish government by letting it fidget: talks with Germany have been going on for weeks, sometimes daily and at the highest level – mostly not in public.
But Germany remains tough. Even today in Berlin. Maas did not even reply to Cavusoglu’s nicely played “Mein Freund Heiko” title. Still, he didn’t sound like he was really behind the travel warning. Rather, he denied any responsibility of himself and the federal government: The assessment of the Robert Koch Institute and EU rules are crucial.
From a medical point of view, that doesn’t necessarily make sense. The corona numbers in Turkey are not much worse than in many other countries. In addition, the German TÜV and Turkish certification programs ensure that the hotel facilities are safe, according to Cavusoglu. He complained that Germany even allowed holidays in other countries that were much worse off.
He alluded to the UK, a corona hotspot in Europe. However, medical reality only plays a subordinate role in corona foreign policy.