Last year, bilateral relations had drastically plummeted to the point that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of using “Nazi methods.”
However this time, Maas clearly stated before leaving for Ankara: “we are determined to keep working hard to improve our relations. Turkey is more than a large neighbor, it is an important partner of Germany.”
Maas will meet Erdogan and top Turkish ministers during his visit – which acts as a precursor for Erdogan’s state visit to Berlin later this month– which analysts say is a rare privilege, considering Turkey’s poor human rights record.
“There indeed seems to be a warming of relations between Turkey and Germany,” stated political analyst Sinan Ulgen of the Istanbul-based Edam research group.
“Turkey’s relationship with its other big partner in the West, the United States, is under tension. So,there is a real willingness in Ankara to improve the relations with key European countries, primarily Germany.” He added further.
The Turkish and German finance ministers are to meet in Berlin later this month to reportedly discuss financial support for Turkey—after US imposed tariffs on Turkish goods, triggering a collapse in the lira, the country’s currency—and threatening a financial crisis.
Not only that. Maas has also prioritized calling on Turkish authorities to release seven German citizens, which Berlin claims are being held for political reasons. German politicians have accused Ankara of pursing hostage diplomacy.
Ankara however has insisted that the Turkish judiciary is independent. In the past few months, Turkish courts have released German journalists Deniz Yucel and Mesale Tolu.
Analysts have warned that if Ankara hopes to seek significant improvement in its ties with Berlin and the wider European Union, it will have to take substantial steps toward complying with EU standards on human rights defined by the Copenhagen Criteria.
“The EU demand of meeting the Copenhagen Criteria requires having some kind of democratic regime — some kind of independent judiciary, some role for checks and balances,” said political analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners.
“You cannot put people in jail for their postings on social media or arrest journalists for writing something Erdogan doesn’t like. These practices need to stop.” She added.