Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received Chancellor Angela Merkel in his presidential villa
Photo: TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE HANDOUT / EPA
Chancellor Angela Merkel was received in Istanbul by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a farewell visit to the presidential villa in the historic Tarabya district on the Bosphorus. During the conversation, she pointed out numerous unresolved conflicts in the German-Turkish relationship, said Merkel after the meeting - on the subject of human rights and migration to German citizens in Turkish custody. “We still have a lot of difficulties to overcome here. 16 years were not enough for that, ”said Merkel.
The Chancellor has been to Turkey twelve times in the 16 years of her term in office.
The mood seemed relaxed on Saturday.
Erdoğan praised Merkel as a “friend” and an experienced politician who always had a “sensible and solution-oriented approach” and joked that Merkel had sometimes complained to him about her government coalition and that the Turkish presidential system had its advantages.
Merkel then said: "We have no intention of introducing a presidential system, but we still want good relations with Turkey."
The low points in German-Turkish relations seemed to be forgotten, such as in 2017, when Erdoğan personally attacked Merkel with Nazi comparisons.
At the time, the imprisonment of Germans such as the journalist Deniz Yücel caused a dispute.
Merkel said she had also spoken to Erdoğan about the issue of imprisonment.
The federal government was able to intervene successfully in some cases, but there were always new cases.
According to the Federal Foreign Office, the number of German prisoners in Turkey is currently in the "middle double-digit range".
It was not until Tuesday that a German of Kurdish origin was sentenced in Turkey to more than two years in prison for alleged terrorist propaganda.
The cultural promoter Osman Kavala and the prominent opposition politician Selahattin Demirtaş have been imprisoned for years, although the European Court of Human Rights ordered their release.
Some of the German citizens incarcerated in Turkey are in custody for supporting Kurdish movements, which are classified as "terrorist" in Turkey.
"We sometimes have very different views as to when the terrorism allegation applies," said Merkel.
Erdoğan, in turn, referred to the independence of the judiciary.
Another central point in the talks between Erdoğan and Merkel was the issue of migration. The Chancellor is co-architect of the so-called refugee pact between Turkey and the EU. This stipulates that Turkey takes action against unauthorized migration to the EU and Greece can send people who have illegally entered one of the Aegean islands back to Turkey. In return, the EU takes on a Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian sent back and supports the country financially.
"Turkey is doing something extraordinary with regard to Syrian refugees," said Merkel.
Germany is committed to ensuring that Turkey receives EU funding "over the already agreed six billion".
However, she lamented the lack of progress in mediating the refugee dispute between Turkey and neighboring Greece.
Erdoğan has repeatedly made it clear in recent weeks that his country will no longer accept refugees.
He continues to seal off his country and has a wall built on the border with Iran, for example.
After the meeting with Merkel, however, he emphasized that one would continue to be a "host" for refugees "and that it will stay that way."
Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan
Merkel also called on the Turkish President to cooperate in dealing with the radical Islamic Taliban in Afghanistan.
"So that people from Afghanistan are not also victims of people smuggled and smuggled, we must ensure that humanitarian aid is provided in Afghanistan," she said.
Otherwise "a catastrophe" threatens in winter.
The Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in August after a campaign of conquest.
Turkey - the only Muslim NATO country - is trying to get in touch with the new rulers and is negotiating with the Taliban to secure civilian operations at Kabul airport.
At the meeting, Erdoğan again criticized racist and Islamophobic attacks on people of Turkish origin in Germany.
The Chancellor promised that the German government would continue to act “very decisively” against all incidents of “misanthropy, racism, and hostility towards religions”.
In addition to the "controversies", Merkel also pointed out positive developments in the German-Turkish relationship.
Sixty years after the recruitment agreement for Turkish guest workers, more than three million people of Turkish origin lived in Germany.
These include many success stories, such as those of the Mainz Biontech bosses Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, who developed a vaccine against the coronavirus.
"We notice that we are geostrategically dependent on each other, whether we act the same or not," said Merkel.
A future federal government would also have to recognize relations with Turkey in all their complexity.
You have to talk to each other - and then also criticize human rights issues, for example.
dpa / AFP / vet