Following last month's visit by Angela Merkel, Bavaria's Minister for Economic Affairs Martin Zeil has gone to Turkey to meet with his counterpart, Zafer Caglayan.
Historically, Turkey and Germany have good trade relations. Germany is currently Turkey's biggest trade partner. Bilateral trade between the two countries has reached $35 billion and Bavaria comprises roughly 14 percent of this figure. Bavaria itself exports roughly 128 billion euros worth of products a year.
As Turkey is a largely locomotive country, it is an important trade partner. Bavaria relies heavily on exports from its local car manufacturers BMW and AUDI while also having manufacturers EADS (who produce aviation and space transport vehicles) and Eurocopter (who produce helicopters). Caglayan is hopeful that a cooperation network in the space and aviation industry can be established. Given Bavaria's standing in these industries, this would benefit both parties.
Bavaria also sees Turkey as a gateway into Asia. Their proximity and shared culture makes it easier to access foreign markets through cooperation with Turkey. Furthermore, German investors are generally optimistic about Turkey's economic prospects which is more than they can say for the current members. Turkey has less costs and is an attractive haven for firms with large interests in Asia, as many of Bavaria's companies do.
While Martin Ziel hopes to foster better trade between the two countries, he is fighting against his country's otherwise terse relations with Turkey. Trade aside, Germany and Turkey do not always see eye to eye.
Relations in other areas are strained for both historical and current reasons. Turkish immigration in the 60's brought a flood of Turks into Germany who, with little German and poor job prospects, had trouble integrating into society. Even today, many Germans and Bavarians, including high profile political figures, harbour resentment towards the Turkish community.
Evidence for this resentment can be seen in the book "Germany Abolishes Itself," published by former Central Bank official Thilo Serrazin, which warned of the "Islamization" in German society. Further damage was done by a string of murders of racially motivated Turkish citizens in Germany. This could only have harmed international cooperation and political stability between the two countries, as Turkish businessmen and citizens could easily have taken these as signs they are not welcome.
This has spilled over into other areas. In the last ten years the number of German enterprises based in Turkey has increased from 1,000 to 4,600, but Germany still has very strict visa policies for Turkish businessman compared to other EU states. Turkey is also seeking to join the European Union. Given Germany is their largest trading partner, they have the most to gain if Turkey were to join. However Germany has been one of the staunchest opponents to Turkey joining the EU.
Among other reasons, there are fears of another rush of immigrants coming into the country. Turkey also has a relatively small GNI per capita of only $8000 and which brings in the risk of possible subsidies for its economy. With growing disgruntlement for Germany's previous bailouts for other countries at the German taxpayer's expense, future subsidies may only worsen relations between Germany's politicians and its citizens.
These disputes continue to hamper political relations between the two countries. In spite of this tension on the national level, Bavaria's government seems to see enough potential in Turkey to send their Minister overseas. The future of this international cooperation is yet to fully play out.