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Turkey has stepped up spying in Germany, says Berlin

Erdogan Dictatorship Referendum
Turkey has stepped up spying in Germany, says Berlin

Amid ongoing diplomatic unrest, German intelligence has reported an increase in Turkish spying in Germany. Turkey's Foreign Minister meanwhile has said Berlin "must decide whether Germany is a friend or not."

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While tensions between Berlin and Ankara have escalated ahead of next month's referendum on Turkey's presidency, the German government said on Wednesday that there has been a significant increase in Turkish spying in Germany.

Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, said divisions in Turkey leading up to the controversial April 16 referendum on boosting the powers of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were mirrored in Germany.

"The BfV is observing a significant increase in intelligence efforts by Turkey in Germany," it said in a statement. No further details were provided.

Already strained relations between Germany and Turkey reached a new low this month in a row over canceled Turkish political rallies to drum up support for the impending referendum.

Some 1.4 million Turks living in Germany are eligible to cast their ballot in the vote.

Hoping to calm the storm on Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel met with his Turkish counterpart Melvut Cavusoglu in Berlin. While both diplomats agreed on the importance of good relations, Cavusoglu said that Germany must now "decide whether Turkey is a friend or not."

In light of recent comments from both Cavusoglu and Erdogan, Gabriel also made it clear that in maintaining good relations "there are lines that should not be crossed."

"...And one of those is the comparison with Nazi Germany," Gabriel said.

Cavusoglu, meanwhile, said he would host Gabriel for a new round of talks in Turkey "as soon as possible."

In a bid to secure support ahead of next month's referendum, Erdogan himself is also due to hold a rally in Germany. Critics have warned, however that the proposed presidential system which seeks to expand Erdogan's powers as president would cement a one-man rule in the country.

Read more: Turkey has stepped up spying in Germany, says Berlin | News | DW.COM | 08.03.2017

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