World News

Germany sees surging asylum applications from Turkey - report

BERLIN (Reuters) - The number of Turks seeking asylum in Germany is up sharply this year, and has been rising steadily since a failed military coup on July 15, a German newspaper group reported on Friday.

Germany received 4,437 asylum applications from Turkish citizens between January and October, compared to 1,767 applications received in all of 2015, the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain reported, citing government data.

It said around 350 asylum-seekers from Turkey were registered each month during the first six months of the year, with numbers then rising steadily to around 485 in October.

No comment was immediately available from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), which compiles the data.

“We must expect that the number of Turks who are seeking political asylum in Germany will continue to rise,” the media group quoted Stephan Mayer, a senior member of the CSU sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, as saying.

But Mayer criticised statements from German foreign ministry officials in which they said persecuted political opponents of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan could apply for asylum in Germany.

“We cannot solve Turkey’s problems by inviting all critical citizens of Turkey to apply for asylum,” Mayer told the media organisation. “That’s exactly what (Erdogan) wants: that the opposition disappears.”

German-Turkish relations have been strained over a series of issues, including Berlin’s criticism of mass arrests in Turkey and Ankara’s treatment of the media, and charges by Turkey that Germany is a safe haven for the Kurdish militant PKK group.

German officials deny the Turkish accusations and say they have been working for years to prevent attacks by members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Catherine Evans