Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag on Friday became the latest figure to criticize Germany for remarks about the July 15 coup attempt, reported Anadolu Agency.
He accused Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ministers of interfering in Turkey’s justice system.
“Both Merkel and the government spokesperson thought they have right to opine on all ongoing cases,” Bozdag said during a visit to a court in Ankara.
“They have to consider Turkey as independent and sovereign and regard the Turkish justice system as being as independent and neutral as the German justice system. You cannot interfere in Turkey’s interior issues. That is not a German minister’s business.”
Since the coup bid, Western leaders have voiced concerns over the arrests of suspects said to be linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which Turkey has accused of being behind the attempt to overthrow the government. The attempt coup saw 246 people martyred.
“The ones who compare Turkey with other [countries] in terms of the human rights and constitutional state principles should first criticize themselves,” Bozdag said.
He added: “Neither the German chancellor nor the commissioner of Europe have the right to give Turkey a lesson. We are open to all kinds of criticisms when they start regarding Turkey objectively and independently.”
President Erdogan Criticizes Germany
On Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Germany for harboring FETO members.
In his speech at an award ceremony at the presidential complex in Ankara , Erdogan said: “We are worried that Germany, which has been taking terrorist organizations like the PKK, DHKP-C under its wing, is now becoming a backyard for FETO.”
He likened terrorist groups to “scorpions that will sting its carrier frog because it’s in their nature.”
“I don’t see the future of Germany — which receives terrorists with open arms instead of fighting against PKK, FETO, Daesh or racist groups — well,” he said. “Germany has become one of the most important countries that terrorists seek shelter in. I am saying it clearly.”
Relations between the two countries have been strained in recent months, largely due to Berlin’s reluctance to take strong action against terrorist groups such as FETO and the PKK.
Germany, which hosts a three million strong Turkish community, is among countries where FETO, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, has a large network with dozens of private schools, businesses and media organizations.
Several important Gulenist figures, including prosecutors and journalists, are believed to have fled from Turkey to Germany.
– Berlin seeks to ease tension
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier denied that Germany had become a platform for terrorist organizations.
“I cannot understand at all the remarks of President Erdogan about the security situation in Germany,” he told a joint press conference with visiting Estonian Foreign Minister Jurgen Ligi Thursday.
The minister underlined Berlin’s political will to continue close cooperation with Ankara, despite differences on a number of issues.
“Turkey remains an important country in the region in view of the trouble spots in Syria and Iraq. Thus, of course we would like to have good and constructive relations with Turkey,” he said.
Steinmeier added that the German government would continue to discuss issues of freedom of expression and press in Turkey, during bilateral talks on various levels.
– Turkey demands action on FETO
Relations between Germany and Turkey have been strained in recent months, largely due to Berlin’s reluctance to take strong action against terrorist groups, including FETO and PKK, which carry out activities in Germany.
Last month, Turkey formally asked German authorities to locate, arrest and handover two high-profile prosecutors, Zekeriya Oz and Celal Kara, who are accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government.
They are accused of playing a key role in a controversial anti-corruption probe late 2013 that targeted the upper echelons of government.
But Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday that Berlin would not extradite any suspects if they faced “politically motivated” charges in Turkey.
Germany views Gulenists with suspicion but the group is not outlawed in the country, with the authorities stressing that such a move could only come after concrete evidence of criminality was presented.
The FETO, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, is accused of orchestrating Turkey’s July 15 coup plot as well as being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
The defeated July 15 coup left 246 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.