15:19 GMT24 February 2020
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    The main condition for Berlin's continued cooperation with Ankara is the release of all German citizens being held in Turkish custody against their will, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Tuesday.

    BERLIN (Sputnik) — Over the course of this year, the relations between Berlin and Ankara have become increasingly strained. Tensions sparked after Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist working for German newspaper Die Welt, was arrested in Istanbul in February over allegedly spreading propaganda on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which is recognized as terrorist organization in Turkey.

    The situation between both nations deteriorated further in early spring, when Berlin banned Ankara's pre-referendum rallies in Germany. At the same time, Turkey stalled the visit of a delegation of German lawmakers to the Turkish Incirlik airbase, which stations German soldiers.

    "There are a range of opportunities that we can offer Turkey in the field of cooperation in the interests of Turkey. Think about the modernization of [European Union-Turkey] Customs Union. But this has a condition: Turkey should honor its legal obligations and, first and foremost, release the German citizens, who against their will and, in our firm belief, in violation of Turkish laws, are detained in Turkey both in the penitentiary institutions and outside them," the minister said at a press conference, adding that it is a "central condition."

    Gabriel added he saw no opportunity to implement further proposals without the release of the German nationals.


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