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Germany grants asylum to four former Turkish military forces amid soured ties

Germany has granted asylum to four former Turkish military forces, including one whom Ankara accuses of assuming a leading role in the country’s 2016 failed coup, amid ongoing tensions between the two countries.  

Turkey accuses former Turkish colonel and then head of the Ankara military academy Ilham P., whose surname cannot be disclosed under the German law, of being a leader of the coup, weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported.

Germany’s Interior Ministry said it cannot provide comment with regard to the issue for protection of data and privacy of individuals.

Ties between Turkey and Germany soured over a host of issues after the July 2016 coup attempt against the government in Turkey, with Berlin critical of Ankara’s post-coup crackdown and the arrest of German citizens in Turkey.

In early January, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Germany following months of dispute between the two countries. During the trip, Cavusoglu and his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel agreed to devote all efforts to mending bilateral ties.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

In the post-coup crackdown, Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, policemen, teachers, and civil servants and arrested over 55,000 others.

Protesters stage a rally in Ankara on November 9, 2017 in support of activists arrested following the 2016 failed coup in Turkey. (AFP photo)

Turkey has accused Germany of harboring “terrorist” organizations opposed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two countries have also clashed over Germany’s alleged support for Kurdish opponents of the Turkish government and its opposition to a controversial referendum in Turkey in April 2017, which gave Erdogan new sweeping powers. German authorities at the time prevented some pro-Erdogan campaigns in the country, a move that infuriated the Turkish president.

One of the disputes between Ankara and Berlin revolves around Turkey’s arrest of several Germans. Germany believes Turkey has detained seven Germans, four of whom have dual nationalities, for political reasons.

Germany-Turkey economic cooperation has also been hit as a result of the tense political relations.

Germany is Turkey’s biggest trade partner, but in the first nine months of 2017, the European country’s exports to Turkey dropped by about six percent.

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