Germany's decision to put on hold major arms exports to Turkey weakens the fight against terrorism, Turkish EU affairs minister says following German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel's comments that Berlin should suspend such sales to Turkey.
A decision by Germany to put all major arms exports to Turkey on hold weakens Ankara's fight against terrorism and makes Europe vulnerable, Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told reporters in London on Tuesday.
Celik was speaking in London after German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday Berlin had suspended major arms exports to Turkey following increasingly strained ties between the NATO allies.
However, in an interview to NDR on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected a general halt to arms exports, pointing out that Turkey is a NATO ally against Daesh and that such sales had already been restricted somewhat.
In addition, Merkel added that Germany would decide on arms sales requests from Turkey on a case-by-case basis. She also said she saw no reason to impose a travel warning for Germans travelling to Turkey, but said Berlin would keep its options open.
Leaving EU vulnerable
"The German foreign minister must formulate his comments seriously. Those arms are being used in the struggle against PKK and Daesh," Celik said.
"This decision will weaken Turkey's fight against terrorism, and weakening the Turkish fight would mean making Europe's future more vulnerable," he said.
"Germany must leave security issues out of political discussions."
Arms requests on hold
"We have put on hold all big requests (for arms exports) that Turkey has sent to us, and these are really not a few," Gabriel said during a panel discussion organised by German business daily Handelsblatt.
Gabriel, a senior member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) who is a junior partner in Merkel's governing coalition, pointed out that Berlin was obliged to send arms to a NATO ally if requested.
But he said this was currently not possible so that nearly all arms exports were put on ice. Gabriel said there were only a few exemptions such as if the government's decision was tied to international agreements or if the requested exports were related to vehicles, not weapons.
A NATO spokesman said the alliance has no role in commercial arms sales between members of the alliance.
"It does not monitor, promote or facilitate such transactions," the spokesman said and added: "Arms export contracts between allies directly are not subject to discussions at NATO."
The deterioration in relations between Berlin and Ankara led Merkel to say during a television debate ahead of a September 24 national election in Germany that she would seek to end Turkey's membership talks with the European Union.
Turkey and Germany are also at odds over Berlin's refusal to extradite asylum seekers Ankara accuses of involvement in the failed 2016 coup, while Berlin is demanding the release of roughly a dozen German or Turkish-German citizens who were detained by Turkish authorities on political charges in the past months.