Turkey declares no anti-terror probe against German firms


Turkish officials told German authorities that they were not investigating any companies in Turkey or in Germany.

Turkey told Germany on Monday that no German firms were being probed by Turkish investigators over suspicions of supporting terrorist groups.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu telephoned his German counterpart Thomas de Maiziere on Monday morning, German Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate told a news conference in Berlin.

Last week, several German newspapers claimed Turkey had requested information on a number of German companies as part of anti-terrorism investigations.

Since the defeated coup attempt in Turkey last year, the Turkish authorities initiated dozens of investigations against local firms owned by people linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which is believed to have orchestrated the attempted military takeover that martyred 250 people.

No probe was opened against any German company on suspicion of financing terrorism.

Plate said a list of nearly 700 companies, received via Interpol two months ago, included German firms which had previous business ties with Turkish firms facing anti-terrorism investigations.

The German side was asked to provide Ankara with any relevant information.

Plate said the Turkish side withdrew this list on Saturday, and informed Berlin there had been a communication problem.

Germany said the Turkey had informed it on Monday that it had dropped accusations of "terrorism" funding against major German companies amid a raging dispute between the NATO partners.

As relations between Berlin and Ankara plumbed new depths, a spokesman for the German interior ministry said his Turkish counterpart had contacted him about the allegations levelled against nearly 700 German firms including giants Daimler and BASF.

The spokesman, Tobias Plate, said Berlin had been told that the list of companies with Turkish operations being investigated for "financing of terrorism" lodged with Interpol in May had been withdrawn, saying the suspicion had been based on a "communication problem".

The Turkish interior minister "assured us that the Turkish authorities were not investigating companies on the list in Turkey or in Germany," he said.

German newspaper Die Zeit reported last week that Turkey had handed Germany a list of 68 companies and individuals suspected of links to terror due to alleged contacts with the group of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for Turkey's failed coup last year. Gulen denies the charge.

Die Zeit said the companies probed ranged from industrial behemoths to a stall selling doner kebab in the west of Germany.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday denied the claims, saying the reports were "black propaganda" aimed at pressurising German companies not to invest in Turkey.

"You have no power to darken Turkey," Erdoğan said.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had also dismissed the report as "entirely a lie" and urged Berlin to solve an escalating crisis through dialogue.

A spokeswoman for the German economy ministry, Tanja Alemany, said Monday that despite the "clarification" of the issue, it would "take a while before German companies can win back confidence" in Turkey as a place to do business.

Germany is Turkey's main European economic and trade partner, with nearly 6,800 German companies active in Turkey.

In 2016, bilateral trade volume exceeded €37 billion ($43 billion), and German foreign direct investment reached €13 billion ($15 billion).

Despite recent political tensions between Turkey and Germany, Ankara has underlined strategic ties between the two countries and reassured German businesses that their investments in the country are safe.

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