September 11, 2017 / 11:02 AM / 2 months ago

More Germans detained in Turkey: German foreign ministry

BERLIN (Reuters) - Another German couple is believed to have been detained in Turkey this weekend and one of the individuals remains in police custody, while the other has been barred from leaving the country, a German foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Spokesman Martin Schaefer told a news conference that Germany had no official information on the arrests that occurred on Sunday in Istanbul, but said the random nature of continued detentions by Ankara was cause for “the utmost concern”.

“The nightmare continues that is facing so many German citizens who wanted to do nothing but spend their vacation in Turkey,” said Schaefer. “It can hit anyone who thinks about entering Turkey. One doesn’t believe oneself to be in danger, but suddenly one is in a Turkish prison.”

Schaefer said those travelling to Turkey should be aware of the potential dangers, but said Berlin had no immediate plans to issue a formal travel warning.

“We will not be drawn into using travel guidance in a political manner,” Schaefer said, adding that continued random arrests by Turkey of German citizens could force Berlin to issue such a warning.

That would put Turkey on a par with Libya, Yemen or Syria, he added.

The foreign ministry has urged German citizens since July 26 to exercise caution when travelling to Turkey.

“NOTHING TO DO WITH REALITY”

Before Monday’s news of additional arrests, 10 Germans were in detention in Turkey, including German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who has been held for over 200 days.

Schaefer downplayed the relevance of Turkey’s warning on Saturday that its citizens should take care when travelling to Germany, saying the warning had “nothing to do with the reality” of 80 million German citizens and ethnic Turks living here.

EU Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, in separate remarks, rejected calls for breaking off discussions with Ankara about its accession to the European Union, saying such a move would only strengthen President Tayyip Erdogan, who is under fire from Brussels over his crackdown on opponents after a failed coup.

Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel, expected to win a fourth term in the Sept. 24 election, infuriated Erdogan’s government when she called for a formal halt to Turkey’s stalled EU accession talks.

Later she conceded that such a move would have to be decided unanimously by the EU.

Tensions between Berlin and Ankara have been running high for more than a year, fueled in part by conflicts over lawmaker visits to German troops stationed in Turkey and Ankara’s crackdown on alleged supporters of last year’s coup.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Tom Koerkemeier and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Paul Carrel and Gareth Jones

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