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German president says Erdoğan visit does not mean normalization of relations

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said that an official visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Germany does not mean normalization of relations between the two countries.

Erdoğan arrived in Berlin on Thursday for an official visit at the invitation of Steinmeier.

In an interview he gave to newspapers linked to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland on Thursday, Steinmeier said: “This visit [by Erdoğan] is not a sign of normalization. We are far from this. But this visit could be a beginning [of normalization].”

There has been tension between the two countries over the past year, especially in light of increased powers acquired by President Erdoğan following a controversial referendum in 2017.

Steinmeier said Turkey needs to take concrete steps with regard to the principles of a state of law, adding that pressure on the media, judiciary and labor unions is unacceptable.

The German president said only after improvements in these fields could Turkey hope to have close relations with the European Union.

The Turkish government has jailed more than 50,000 people, dismissed 150,000 others from state jobs, closed down critical media outlets and arrested dozens of critical journalists in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in the country on July 15, 2016 under the pretext of anti-coup fight.

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