NPR在线收听:Tensions Escalate Between Turkey And Germany



Turkey has detained tens of thousands of people since a failed coup last year. Several foreigners have been caught up in the purge, too. Some of them are Germans, and Berlin is demanding the release of its citizens. In the midst of all of this, a jailhouse wedding for one German prisoner - NPR's Lauren Frayer has the story.


LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: At a sidewalk cafe in Istanbul, Dilek Mayaturk Yucel reminisces about her wedding back in April.

DILEK MAYATURK YUCEL: We really so happy. And we read each other the poem that we had written by ourselves. I think we spent 45 minutes together.

FRAYER: Before guards escorted the groom away. This wedding took place at a Turkish prison where the groom Deniz Yucel has been held since February. He's the Turkey correspondent for a big German newspaper, Die Welt, and a dual citizen. And he's not the only German citizen arrested here recently. Peter Steudtner owner is a German aid worker arrested last month with five other people, including the local head of Amnesty International. Their lawyer, Deha Boduroglu, says police burst into the Istanbul hotel where they were holding a workshop.

MURAT DEHA BODUROGLU: They said stop. Here is the police. And where is Peter - Peter Steudtner? Hands up and don't move.

FRAYER: More than 50,000 Turks have been detained in this broad crackdown. But Boduroglu says his client's fate is an international matter.

BODUROGLU: I hope it will be resolved through the Turkish courts. But probably, it will go through the diplomatic level.

FRAYER: Germany and Turkey have long been allies. Germany sends the most foreign tourists to Turkey. Three million Turks live in Germany. And this spat began when Germany wouldn't allow supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to hold political rallies there. In turn, Turkey blocked German lawmakers from visiting their troops at an anti-ISIS mission on a Turkish base, though this week Turkey said it may let them visit another base. With these arrests, Berlin has warned its citizens to exercise caution when traveling to Turkey. And in a recent speech, Erdogan hit back.


PRESIDENT RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: (Through interpreter) I want to remind my German friends and the rest of the world, you will not be able to denigrate Turkey. You do not have the power to scare us.

FRAYER: Erdogan accuses Germany of sheltering Turks from the purge that has followed last year's failed coup.

SINAN ULGEN: We are at a low point.

FRAYER: Political scientist Sinan Ulgen says a feud serves a political purpose for Erdogan at home.

ULGEN: I think the political calculus has certainly been to consolidate the nationalist vote by adopting this strident tone towards Turkey's partners in the West.

FRAYER: But he says it may backfire. Opinion polls show more Germans oppose Turkey joining the European Union than ever before. Germany has threatened to cut off some economic ties with Turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

FRAYER: In a classroom in Istanbul, Necibe Cakici is studying German. She hopes the feud with her country's biggest trading partner will blow over. She's an electrical engineer at the local Mercedes factory.

NECIBE CAKICI: I think Mercedes will not close the factory in Turkey. But for further investments, it can cause a problem, I think - I mean, for future.

FRAYER: Still, she hopes learning German will help her get a promotion.

Lauren Frayer, NPR News, Istanbul.


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