Joint Communiqué - German-Turkish intergovernmental consultations, 22nd January 2016

Turkey and Germany share a close partnership that encompasses all political, economic and social fields. Both countries are close allies within the North Atlantic Alliance and in the fight against terrorism. They share robust and vital economic ties. The interaction between the Governments of both countries is substantial and strong. These interactions closely mirror the vibrant links between our people and civil societies.

At a time when the international community is facing unprecedented challenges, the Turkish-German partnership is more essential than ever as regards contributing to maintain and promote peace and stability in the wider region.

Both Governments today emphasised their commitment to further strengthening their cooperation and partnership across the full spectrum of their bilateral relations and in multilateral forums. The Chancellor and the Prime Minister reaffirmed the importance of their close collaboration in tackling the imminent challenges their countries face. As the most recent heinous attacks in Istanbul and those before it in Ankara and Suruç confirmed, there is a strong and urgent need to further deepen cooperation in the legitimate fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including with regard to Daesh, PKK, DHKP-C and others.

Germany and Turkey’s participation and active cooperation in the anti-IS coalition stand as a testament to these common efforts, demonstrated most visibly by the deployment of German Tornado aircraft to the Turkish air base in İncirlik. Both Governments are determined to continue and further strengthen their cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy, not least through substantial reassurance measures by NATO.

Both Governments identified the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq, as well as the presence of Daesh, as the main drivers of insecurity in the region, with severe humanitarian implications. They agreed that it is of paramount importance to press for political solutions to these crises and to urgently address their humanitarian repercussions in full. Both Governments call on members of the international community to refrain from any action that could further fuel the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and the region. They appeal to the international community to make substantial contributions to the provision of humanitarian assistance and development aid to all those affected by these crises and reiterate the requirement to allow free and unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need. Both Governments agreed on the significance of the upcoming donors’ conference on Syria on 4 February 2016 under the chair of the United Kingdom, Norway, Kuwait, Germany and the United Nations. Both Governments urged the international community to fully address the humanitarian needs of displaced persons and refugees.

The Chancellor and the Prime Minister reaffirmed their commitment to the full and speedy implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan, as endorsed at the Turkey-EU Summit on 29 November 2015. They welcomed the new momentum in Turkey’s EU accession process and the opening of a new chapter. As the Turkey-EU Summit underscored, the accession process needs to be re-energised. Turkey and Germany reiterate that all the elements included in the Turkey-EU Summit Statement will be taken forward. In this regard, the agreement to hold regular Turkey-EU Summits twice a year, the European Commission’s commitment to complete, in the first quarter of 2016, the preparatory work for the opening of a number of new chapters, the High Level Energy Dialogue, the High Level Economic Dialogue and the launching of preparatory steps for upgrading the Customs Union all constitute significant steps, which will also render the message of Europe stronger.

Both Governments regard irregular migration in the region as a threat to regional stability that has to be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency. They further reiterated that this challenge can only be overcome through genuine burden-sharing.

The Prime Minister emphasised the commitment of the Government of Turkey to undertaking all possible efforts to substantially reduce the number of irregular migrants in the near future. In this context, the Prime Minister pledged to facilitate the readmission of irregular migrants not in need of protection, in accordance with the Turkey-EU Readmission Agreement. Turkey reiterated its commitment to securing its borders effectively against irregular migration. The Chancellor acknowledged that Turkey has taken initial steps towards ensuring a more orderly process for dealing with migration, including the establishment of specific visa requirements for Syrians wishing to enter Turkey from third countries through sea-/airports, which has led to an immediate drop in numbers. The Prime Minister is willing to consider further appropriate measures with a view to third countries to prevent irregular migration into the Schengen area.

The Chancellor made clear that the German Government is ready to provide support and assistance to Turkey towards fulfilling its commitments as agreed in the Action Plan and the Summit Declaration. Both sides also agreed that the initial financial support of three billion euros from the EU would contribute to assisting Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey. In this context, both Governments agreed to further intensify their joint efforts to clamp down on people smugglers and their criminal networks and activities. To this end, cooperation between the respective police agencies will be significantly intensified, as exemplified by the current joint operation against smugglers who use “ghost ships”. The Ministers of the Interior were tasked with finalising their negotiations on the respective Memoranda of Understanding as a matter of urgency. Both sides also agreed that substantially increased cooperation between the EU border agency Frontex and the Turkish authorities is in both countries’ interest. The important activities by the Turkish Coast Guard were noted, and it was agreed that further technical and financial cooperation will be required to meet the urgent need to increase capacity.

The Chancellor and the Prime Minister once again emphasised their commitment to meaningfully advancing the negotiations between Turkey and the EU on visa liberalisation with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens to the Schengen area by October 2016. Both confirmed the link between visa liberalisation and an effective readmission agreement, as mentioned in the Turkey-EU Summit Declaration, which stipulates a clear calender.

The Chancellor welcomed Turkey’s initial steps to further support Syrians under temporary protection. Both leaders agreed that given the lack of short-term prospects for returning to Syria, it is vital to provide Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey with sustainable opportunities in the short to medium term. The Chancellor particularly commended the Prime Minister for measures taken towards opening up the labour market to those under temporary protection and to further easing these individuals’ circumstances in Turkey. In this context, the Chancellor praised the outstanding Turkish efforts so far to accommodate the more than 2.5 million Syrians and other refugees currently living in Turkey. She also emphasised Germany’s readiness to share the burden further in helping these refugees, in addition to bilateral projects within the framework of the German-Turkish Dialogue on Migration. The Prime Minister praised Germany’s readiness to provide further support and assistance.