As reports have emerged that Germany has been spying on Turkey for decades, some German officials defend the practice, saying not all NATO allies can be treated as friends.
The German Federal Intelligence Service, BND, has reportedly been spying on Turkey for almost four decades.
German magazine Focus reported on Saturday that Germany’s secret service BND began eavesdropping upon approval by the Social Democratic Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s government since 1976.
Following the report, Turkey summoned German Ambassador Eberhard Pohl to provide a “formal and satisfactory explanation” over the reports and was told that if the claims are true, Germany should “immediately stop any spying activity targeting Turkey.”
“This is a grave situation that needs to be explained by Germany if there is slightest truth to these allegations,” Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Such practices in relations among friends and allies, which should be built on mutual trust and respect, are in no way acceptable,” it added.
However, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung quoted a German government source as saying that “We have never claimed in the past years that this position applies to every NATO country.”
According to the unnamed official, Berlin does not view Turkey as its US or European partner, including France or the UK.
Debates over previous spying allegations are still running high in the media, but the new report may add fuel to the tensions between two long-time NATO allies.
The recent scandal first unveiled after German news magazine Der Spiegel revealed on August 17 that the BND has spied on Turkey at least since 2009.
Germany’s media also reported that the BND had “accidentally” listened in on phone calls made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and his predecessor Hillary Clinton in 2012 and 2013.
German politicians have sought to justify spying on Turkey, referring to the terrorist risk posed by the tensions on the country’s borders with Syria and Iraq, as well as the activities of the Kurdish Workers party (PKK) that has been listed as a terrorist organization by many countries.