Turkey returns ambassador to Berlin as frosty relations thaw

Turkey's ambassador to Germany returned to Berlin on Friday, in an indication of thawing relations following a freeze that led Ankara to withdraw its representative four months ago.

Turkey pulled its ambassador at the start of June in protest at a resolution passed by the German parliament recognizing as genocide the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

There were further sources of tension following the failed coup in Turkey in July, with Turkey demanding the extradition of followers of Fethullah Gulen living in Germany. Ankara accuses Gulen's movement of being behind the attempted coup, a charge Gulen rejects.

German Foreign Office State Secretary Markus Ederer called the return of Ambassador Huseyin Avni Karslioglu "an important positive step in bilateral relations" after meeting the Turkish diplomat in Berlin.

Also on Friday, German Development Minister Gerd Mueller met Turkish Social Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya in Ankara. The meeting was the first at cabinet level between the two countries since the failed coup.

"The friendliness was perceptible," Mueller said, adding that he had discussed a German offer to build 20 schools for educating both Turkish children and Syrian refugees.

Mueller said that Kaya would soon pay a visit to Germany, which is home to a large Turkish minority, with some 1.5 million German residents holding Turkish citizenship. Estimates of the total Turkish population in Germany range above 3 million.

Tensions between Berlin and Ankara began to ease in September when the German government said that the parliamentary resolution on Armenia was not "not legally binding."

Turkey also for a time blocked official visits to German troops stationed at Incirlik airbase as part of Western efforts to counter Islamic State.

Last update: Fri, 07/10/2016 - 14:07
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