Germany’s interior minister praised Turkey on Thursday for excellent cooperation in fighting terrorism.
The commendation came in an apparent effort to row back from a dispute with Ankara after a leaked government memo directed allegations against Turkey of being a hub for extremists.
The memo is a headache for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been criticized by some German and European lawmakers for leaning back on Ankara to help cutback a migrant flow into Europe.
A year away from a federal election, the leak of the report earlier this week by German public broadcaster ARD also unleashed recriminations within her right-left coalition.
Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said on Wednesday said that exchanges of information with Turkey on movements of supporters of ISIS militants were good.
“I can say that the cooperation with Turkish colleagues, security services, police and my colleagues is excellent,” he said at a news conference about domestic security.
He also said it was “close to his heart” to emphasize how well Turkish authorities dealt with the investigation of a militant attack in Istanbul in January in which German tourists were killed.
The leaked government report said Turkey had become a hub for ‘Islamist’ groups and that President Tayyip Erdogan had an “ideological affinity” to Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The report was prepared by the Interior Ministry after a parliamentary request by the opposition Left party.
Turkey was enraged by the report; its Foreign Ministry said the allegations were “a new manifestation of the twisted mentality” that for some time has been targeting Erdogan and his government.
Relations with Germany are already strained, earlier this year; Erdogan launched legal action against a German comedian who broadcast a satirical song about him on television.
De Maiziere, a conservative Christian Democrat, played down tensions within Merkel’s coalition over the leak, although the Social Democrats have demanded that the government explain the report to parliament.
In addition, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, led by Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier, distanced itself from the report on Wednesday, saying the assessment was not its own.