Turkey threatens tourists and then backpedals

Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu threatened in a speech he delivered in Polatlı to have German tourists suspected of being against the Turkish government arrested at airports. Following reports in German media about the speech Ankara has stressed that Soylu's words were taken out of context. What are the consequences of the speech, and how should Germany respond?

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T24 (TR) /

Interior minister has hurt tourism

Solyus overstepped the mark with his words, columnist Zeynel Lüle comments with consternation on website T24:

“These statements haven't just harmed diplomatic relations but also Turkey's tourism sector. At a time when the Turkish economy is extremely fragile. ... Perhaps in the current election campaign atmosphere he was seeking a nationalistic discourse, or perhaps he felt the need to speak in this way. I don't know. ... However part of his speech didn't remain in Polatlı, but spread across the globe. ... We see that the foreign minister is trying to prevent or minimise its impact. But it's unfortunate that these words came at a time of the year when European tourists are planning their annual holidays.”

Another travel warning is an option now

The Saarbrücker Zeitung takes the threat seriously:

“Ankara has denied that such action will be taken, albeit rather half-heartedly. Clearly there are worries that the new boom in travel to Turkey will end and that German tourists will opt for other destinations. But Ankara's reassurances can't be trusted. ... There is great discontent among the population. On the one hand strong words are intended to divert attention. On the other, past experience shows that Ankara doesn't always confine itself to making threats. ... The German government would be well advised to take preventive action and clearly warn Ankara through diplomatic channels against any capricious acts. And if that doesn't help the next travel warning must be issued without delay.”