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Chancellor meets with President Erdoğan

Refugee assistance for Turkey

The situations in the crisis-affected regions of Libya and Syria were the focus of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s talks with President Erdoğan, along with bilateral relations. Another matter the Chancellor wished to discuss was the way German citizens are treated in Turkey. Earlier in the day, the two leaders attended the official opening of a Turkish-German university.

Chancellor Angela Merkel in conversation with Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan As well as their bilateral talks, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Erdoğan attended the official opening of the Turkish-German University in Istanbul Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

During their bilateral meeting they discussed, for instance "that we want to continue to work on cases where people with German citizenship are currently not able to leave Turkey, or who are in prison there; we will discuss how to move forward here on a case by case basis," reported Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul. The question of the accreditation of German journalists for 2020 too is to be resolved.

Support for refugees

Their talks also focused on the humanitarian situation for refugees in Syria, in the area around Idlib. Germany wants to see "how we can support Turkey", explained the Chancellor, because Turkey is facing a "massive problem" in this regard. The political process in Syria, sometimes referred to under the heading of the Constitutional Committee, also figured in their talks. Ideally within the first three months of this year, the two aim to meet again with the French and Russian Presidents in Istanbul. 

The two leaders discussed ways of fighting criminal smugglers and human traffickers and illegal migration. In this area too, reported the Chancellor, they aim to step up cooperation, partly by training Turkey’s coastguard service.

Truce must become a genuine ceasefire

With a view to Libya, the two want to work to have the Military Council meet very swiftly. The process of moving from a fragile truce to a genuine ceasefire must gain traction. That, said the Chancellor, will still involve a lot of work.

Within the scope of steps to modernise economic relations, the matters of Cyprus and Greece will also have to be discussed at bilateral level, she added.

Opening the new campus of the Turkish-German University

Earlier in the day, the Chancellor and the Turkish President Erdoğan opened the new campus of the Turkish-German University in Istanbul. "Young people studying here acquire more than purely expertise in their chosen discipline. Here they will meet people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. They can study together and learn from one another," said the Chancellor in her opening speech. "So the students and the teaching staff here at the Turkish German University are not only studying and teaching for themselves. They are also enriching the relations between our two countries."

Trust is generated, and "the dialogue within and between our civil societies is invigorated – a dialogue which is also extremely important for politics and for inter-governmental cooperation".

Meetings with the Chamber of Commerce

The Chancellor was also invited by the Turkish-German Chamber of Commerce to meet with representatives of the business community in Istanbul, where one interest voiced was for Germany to step up its engagement in the field of technical and vocational education and training. Angela Merkel also met with individuals from Turkish civil society.

Bilateral relations
Germany is Turkey’s most important trade partner and its largest foreign investor. Over 7,300 German and Turkish companies in Turkey have received German equity investment. At both the EU and bilateral level, the German government provides Turkey with support for the approximately 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in the country. Beacon projects for foreign culture and education policy with Turkey include the Tarabya Culture Academy in Istanbul, a residential programme for artists, the Turkish-German University in Istanbul and the German schools in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. 

Jan 27, 2020