At a joint press conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored the importance of the Turkish President’s visit. Differences, she said, can only be resolved through dialogue. "If we do not talk, we will not find common ground." Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had invited the Turkish President to Berlin.
Germany and Turkey have many ties, said Angela Merkel. For decades the two countries have enjoyed very close relations. They are allies within NATO. And they share a number of important interests, including the fight against terrorism, the need to resolve the conflict in Syria and the question of migration.
Relations are shaped, above all, by the 3.5 million people with Turkish roots who live in Germany. The German government works to represent their interests – as she assured the Turkish President, said Angela Merkel. Germany is also endeavouring to integrate these people, she added. In this context, the Chancellor pointed to the arson attack in Solingen 25 years ago and the official investigations of the NSU crimes. The wounds that these crimes opened up, she said, "are far from having healed".
Angela Merkel stressed that Germany has a major interest in economic stability in Turkey. The two countries intend to step up their dialogue. A German-Turkish economic commission is now to meet for the first time, and the German-Turkish Energy Forum is to come together for the second time.
Differences will not be swept under the carpet
The Chancellor made it plain that developments in Turkey are of great interest for Germany. Over the last few years profound differences have arisen, relating primarily to questions of the rule of law.
Angela Merkel called for a swift solution for the German citizens imprisoned in Turkey. "We are happy that a number of specific cases have been resolved and that some individuals have been released, she said. But there are still other German nationals being held in Turkish prisons." She reported that she had urged that these cases too be resolved as swiftly as possible.
"Turkey is doing an excellent job" on refugees
Another item on the agenda was the EU-Turkey Agreement on illegal migration. "We will honour our commitments," said the Chancellor. It is important to ensure that the EU aid pledged does in fact benefit Turkey with as little red tape as possible. She praised Turkey’s commitment during the refugee crisis. "Turkey is doing an excellent job, and has taken in more than three million Syrian refugees."
Angela Merkel and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also discussed the Syrian civil war and the situation of the civilian population in the last rebel stronghold, Idlib. The Chancellor announced that in October there would be a four-way meeting with the Presidents of Turkey, Russia and France.