German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced a range of steps against Turkey in response to the detention of a German human rights activist, signalling a more confrontational stance to the NATO ally after an escalation in tensions. Julian Satterthwaite reports.
Germany stepping up a war of words with Turkey over the detention of six human rights activists. Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel on Thursday (July 20) warning Germans to take care when travelling to the country and threatening to end corporate investment guarantees for Ankara. Gabriel cut short a holiday to deal with the escalating crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, SIGMAR GABRIEL, SAYING: "I therefore do not see how we as the German government can continue to guarantee German corporate investment in Turkey if, as shown, there are threats of haphazard decisions for political reasons." Gabriel said Germany will talk to EU partners about Turkey's aspirations to join the bloc and said he could not envisage talks on expanding the customs union to the country. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, SIGMAR GABRIEL, SAYING: "Unfortunately I can't see any kind of readiness on the current Turkish government's side to go this path with us which is why we in Germany will be forced to take a new direction in our Turkish policy." The travel warning could hit Turkey hard - bookings from Germany account for around 15 percent of its tourists. The measures mark a significantly more confrontational stance towards the NATO ally. And are supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who labeled them "necessary and unavoidable" in a tweet. She has already sharply criticized the detention of the activists. The detained group, which includes a German national and Amnesty International's Turkish director, is accused of belonging to a terrorist organization. They are among 50-thousand jailed pending trial in a crackdown that followed an attempted coup a year ago. Turkey has already lashed out at the measures. A spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara cannot accept such a stance. But the unusually direct language from Germany is a sure sign of growing impatience.