DELBRUECK, Germany (Reuters) - Turks can safely come to Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, dismissing a warning from Ankara that its citizens should take care when travelling there due to what it said was an increase in anti-Turkish sentiment.
Tensions between Berlin and Ankara have been bubbling for months and Turkey’s warning on Saturday came after Germany’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday Germans travelling to Turkey risked arbitrary detention even in tourist areas.
“I want to say very clearly that all Turkish citizens can travel here,” Merkel said in the northwestern German town of Delbrueck during a campaign event ahead of a Sept. 24 election.
“No journalists get arrested here and no journalists get put in custody. Freedom of opinion and the rule of law prevail here and we’re proud of that,” Merkel said.
She pointed to German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who has been detained in Turkey for more than 200 days. He is one of 12 German citizens now in Turkish detention on political charges, four of them holding dual citizenship.
“We think there’s no justification at all for him being in prison and the same applies to at least 11 other Germans,” Merkel said.
Merkel, who infuriated the Turkish government last weekend by saying she would seek an end to Turkey’s membership talks with the European Union, is expected to win a fourth term in the upcoming election.
Polls give her conservatives a double-digit percentage lead over their rival Social Democrats (SPD).
Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Mark Potter