The people are a bridge between our two countries
The Chancellor once again stressed that the outcome of the European Union’s accession negotiations with Turkey is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Her trip began with a visit to German troops currently stationed in Kahramanmaraş to man the German Patriot missile defence systems installed there. The Chancellor thanked the 320 or so German soldiers deployed in Turkey. Their mission is a sign of solidarity with Turkey, a fellow member of NATO. She also stressed, however, that a political solution must be found to the conflict in Syria.
Visit to the World Heritage Site in Göreme
Accompanied by the Turkish Minister for Tourism Ömer Celik the Chancellor visited the early Christian cave churches in the Central Anatolian region of Cappadocia.
The cave churches, some of which are more than 1000 years old, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The visit was an expression of the Chancellor’s appreciation of Turkey’s long and rich culture.
The local people thanked the Chancellor for this gesture and welcomed her with a "shower of roses" from a hot air balloon. The roses from the balloon landed on the Chancellor’s car as she arrived at the Göreme open air museum.
Progress on EU accession negotiations is the goal
The Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan welcomed the Chancellor in Ankara where they each met with her for private talks. One important item on the agenda was Turkey’s accession talks with European Union, which are currently bogged down.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked the Chancellor for support in Turkey’s accession process during the current Irish Presidency of the European Council. The Chancellor once again made it quite clear that the outcome of the EU’s accession negotiations with Turkey is not a foregone conclusion. "That means that the outcome is not predetermined during the negotiation process. I have said frequently that I am sceptical about full membership for Turkey. But I would like to continue this negotiation process as we agreed," declared the Chancellor.
Before she left for Turkey, Angela Merkel declared in her weekly video podcast that a new chapter must be opened in Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU. "Although I am sceptical I have agreed to continue the accession negotiations," said Angela Merkel. "They have become somewhat bogged down recently, and I would be in favour of opening a new chapter now in these negotiations so that we can move forward."
The unresolved Cyprus conflict is an obstacle in negotiations between the EU and Turkey. As the Chancellor said in Ankara though, another chapter in the negotiations – regional policy – is to be opened. Further progress will, however, depend on Turkey implementing the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement regarding the recognition of Cyprus.
Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement
When Turkey signed the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement on 29 July 2005, it made a unilateral declaration in which it refused to recognise the Republic of Cyprus before a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem is achieved within the framework of the United Nations. Turkey also made the implementation of the Additional Protocol, in particular the opening of Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot ships and aircraft, dependent on the Republic of Cyprus agreeing to the "Turkish Republic of North Cyprus" dealing directly with the European Union.
Many political issues broached
The Turkish Prime Minister and the Chancellor discussed international and bilateral issues. The two heads of government discussed, for instance, a planned German-Turkish University. "I am delighted that we are making progress on the German-Turkish University. I hope that by the autumn/winter semester 2013/2014 we will see the first lectures held," declared Angela Merkel.
The Chancellor also called on Turkey to respect the rights of religious communities and journalists. "We would like to see journalists free to exercise their profession." Germany is also working to enable all religious communities to act freely.
On the matter of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Chancellor said, "We will do everything in our power to fight terrorism". Germany will also do all it can to ensure that the murders committed by the extreme right-wing terror group NSU are fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice.
Turkey is an important economic partner
Angela Merkel was accompanied by a high-ranking business delegation, comprising 15 representatives of the German business community. They met with the Turkish Prime Minister and representatives of the Turkish business community. Angela Merkel and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were also invited to attend a German-Turkish Business Forum.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underlined the importance of economic relations between the two states. About 5,000 German companies now operate in Turkey, where they provide jobs for more than 350,000 people. In Germany too there are a large number of Turkish investors.
For Germany, Turkey is one of the most important trading partners outside the European Union. German investments in Turkey already stand at more than seven billion euros. German businesses are very much interested in helping expand Turkey’s infrastructure.
For Germany, Turkey’s energy sector is also interesting. In November 2011 a declaration on energy cooperation was made by Federal Economics Minister Philipp Rösler and the Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. In April 2013 a German-Turkish Energy Forum is to be held.
Angela Merkel underlined the importance of German and Turkish citizens. "I share the opinion that the relations between the people of Germany and the people of Turkey, especially as a result of the many Turkish citizens and the many more individuals with Turkish roots living in Germany, are a very important aspect of our bilateral relations." The people who live in Germany are "a bridge between our two countries," said the Chancellor.