By Ayhan Simsek
Political differences should not hinder Germany and Turkey from closer dialogue and cooperation, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Saturday.
Speaking at a panel discussion in the Munich Security Conference, Gabriel underlined significance of Turkey for his country, and defended his efforts for normalization of ties between Berlin and Ankara.
"Turkey is a big and important neighbor. They have a big influence in international politics,” he said.
Gabriel said, the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, after a long period of detention in Turkey, has cleared “a huge obstacle” in developing closer cooperation between the two countries.
Die Welt correspondent Yucel, who was arrested last year on suspicion of spreading terrorist propaganda, was released from custody on Friday pending trial.
Despite calls by German politicians for his release, the Turkish government ruled out any political influence on the judiciary, but tried to speed up the proceedings, and advised German government to wait for the decision of its courts.
Gabriel has welcomed Yucel’s release, but also said that differences with Ankara on the issues of rule of law, human rights, freedom of press, should be discussed in various mechanisms of dialogue between the two countries.
“Maybe we would not be able to reach a common understanding immediately. But I do not know how we could make progress without talks,” he said.
The German foreign minister dismissed calls by opposition politicians, who demanded suspending dialogue and cooperation with Turkey, due to recent tensions between Berlin and Ankara.