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Foreign Ministry of Germany warns citizens travelling to Turkey for using "social media" more carefully.
A recent update on the special page of the Ministry's website where "travel warnings" are posted for the citizens of Germany who are planning to travel overseas announces the citizens that they may run the risk of arrest in Turkey upon complaints for their sharings on the social media.
The travellers are warned that they could face serious prosecution for "propoganda for a terrorist organization" or for "insulting the president" not only for their own comments but also for "likes" of the comments of others. Citizens of Germany are further warned to stay away from demonstrations and mass protests in Turkey.
In spite of relative improvements in poltical and economic relations and reciprocal visits and business talks between the two countries, the recent update on the website of the Foriegn Ministry of Germany reflects "a tougher warning for travels to Turkey", the analysts say.
"Not only the journalists and human rights activists, ordinary tourists too may face prosecution," a report in the Stern magazine warns. "The holiday may end in custody in an Istanbul jail instead of stretching on an easy chair or at your relatives' in İzmir."
Ups and downs in Turkey warnings
Nevertheless the recent update is not expected to affect major change in the constantly rising trend of touristic travels from Germany to Turkey in spite of tougher warnings in the past.
The decrease in the number of travellers from Germany to Turkey following the Jul. 15, 2016 failed coup and suicide bombings and to the soaring relations after President Erdoğan's slamming of the German leaders as "Nazis" reversed with the new year. The previous updates made by the Foreign Ministry of Germany for travel warnings were finally relaxed in the aftermath of the lifting of the emergency rule following the 24 June elections.
Turkey is out of Germany's "risky countries list"
In spite of the recent update, Turkey is not included in Germany's Foriegn Ministry's official list of countries citizens are warned to refrain from travelling. For such a serious warning significant risks pertaining "life security" should exist in the country in question.
Seven countries, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Central African Republic are under official "travel warning" and nearly 20 countries are under "partial travel warning" and Turkey is not among those countries too.
Nevertheless, the Foreign Ministry's recent update reflects a relatively more dangerous situation than what was mentioned in the previous update.
The update refers to many cases of arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted citizens of Germany and underlines that these arrests generally resulted from social media postings critical of the government of Turkey. In the Foreign Ministry of Germany's update, citizens are warned that postings which remain within the limits of "freedom of thought and expression" according to the relevant legal understanding in Germany may carry the risk of arrest for "insulting the president" and "propaganda for a terrorist organization" in Turkey. The update further warns citizens that even "likes" may provide justification for legal prosecution. The private accounts too may be "anoymously informed" to the prosecutors the update warns.
Another clause in the update reminds citizens of Germany that many travellers are denied entry visas to Turkey on border gates. Some of those persons are reported detained at the border gates, messages and recorings in their cellphones are examind and the persons remain under arrest the update warns and relates the cases to complaints from possible anonymous informants. Further, most of those who are denied entry visas are of Alevite or Kurdish origins the Foreign Ministry update claims.
Number of tourists from Germany still growing
In 2016 the flow of tourists from Germany to Turkey had heavily dropped. According to a TURSAB (Tourism and Travel Agencies Union of Turkey) report, in spite of a slight improvement in 2017, the demand in the European tourist market for Turkey continued to fall and the biggest decrease was in Germany.
In 2015 Turkey had hosted 5.5 Mn tourists from Germany to fall back to 3.8 Mn in 2016, and further back to 3.5 Mn in 2017. In the same period the number of the tourists from Britain too falled by 1 Mn, from The Netherlands by 420 thousand, from France by 260 thousand.
Nevertheless, in spite of the decrease, Turkey remains among the favorite tourist destinations for citizens of Germany. According to a research by "Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen"ın (Foundation for the Problems of Future) Turkey in 2017 was the fourth among Germans' favorite destinations in Europe. In 2017 the citizens of Germany seconded those of Russia in their choice of Turkey as a holiday destination.
According to tourism specialists and agencies who participated in the Internationale Tourismus Börse (International Tourism Market) in Berlin in March converge on the opinion that the number of tourists travelling from Germany to Turkey will continue to rise and expect that it may exceed 4 Million in 2018 but they do not share the optimism of Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, who believes that it would exceed 5 million.
As holidays in Turkey become ever cheaper due to the ongoing devaluation of the Turkish currency, it is highly unlikely that the Foriegn Ministry of Germany's recent warnings would reverse the upward trend in the number of tourists travelling from Germany to Turkey. (GK/HK/EK)
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