“Direct dialogue is key, especially in difficult situations”

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The Federal Chancellor met with President Erdoğan of Turkey “Direct dialogue is key, especially in difficult situations”

The situation in the Middle East, the Russian attack on Ukraine and Sweden’s NATO membership: these were some of the issues discussed by Federal Chancellor Scholz and Turkey’s President Erdoğan during the latter’s visit to Berlin.

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Federal Chancellor Scholz and President Erdoğan of Turkey

“Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable for Germany,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz during a press conference with Turkey’s President Erdoğan.

Photo: Federal Government/Denzel

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Berlin, where they met to discuss current global crises and conflicts. Regarding Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the two heads of state agreed that Russia had to end its war of aggression as soon as possible. While the German and Turkish governments hold very different views concerning the current Middle East conflict, the Federal Chancellor stressed that “direct dialogue is key, especially in difficult situations”.

Russian attack on Ukraine

In view of the far-reaching consequences of the Russian attack on Ukraine, Scholz praised Turkey’s constructive and vital role concerning Ukrainian grain exports, and he thanked the Turkish President for his personal commitment in this essential matter. He also expressed his regret at Moscow’s decision to abandon the agreement.

In the context of this “turning point”, the Federal Chancellor reiterated that Russia must not move any borders by force and he also warned of the possible threat to European security. Concerning Sweden’s NATO membership  he said: “We hope that a decision will be made soon. It is key, after all, to strengthen NATO as an alliance.”

Barbaric attack on Israel by Hamas

With regard to the situation in the Middle East, the Federal Chancellor stressed: “The Federal Government strongly condemns this act of terror committed by Hamas.” He added that Turkey and the Federal Government were united in their concern that the situation in the Middle East could escalate further. However, the Federal Chancellor also highlighted that “our solidarity with Israel is non-negotiable” and that “it is enshrined in international law that Israel has the right to defend itself”.

See here for further details: Germany stands firmly alongside Israel .

Federal Chancellor Scholz also highlighted that every human life had the same value: “We are also saddened by the suffering of the Palestinian civil population in Gaza.” He went on to say that Germany was the biggest donor of humanitarian aid and had further increased such aid to over 160 million euros this year.

Once more, the Federal Chancellor pointed out that it was necessary to find a long-term political solution for the Middle East conflict: “A two-state solution continues to be our goal.” Israel’s right to exist was non-negotiable for Germany, he said. Scholz also found clear words concerning emerging anti-Semitism: “There is no room for anti-Semitism in our country, regardless of whether it is politically or religiously motivated, whether it stems from the right or the left, and whether it has developed here for centuries or is brought to Germany from the outside.”

However, he also expressed his determination to counteract any attempts to call into question the solid position of the five million Muslims that live in Germany.

Strengthening bilateral relations

In view of Turkish-German and Turkish-EU relations, Scholz explained that both sides had failed to draw on their full potential in recent years. Scholz also mentioned displacement and irregular migration as central issues, and said that the two governments agreed in their wish to limit irregular migration. The Federal Chancellor called for a continuation of the solid agreement between the EU and Turkey that was drawn up in 2016. “We will have to discuss the issue of repatriations, too,” he added.

Scholz also spoke about the close contacts and personal connections between citizens from both countries. Following the earthquake in the Gaziantep region in February, Germany had helped without delay, had enabled thousands of affected individuals to stay in Germany for a short time, and had provided funding for reconstruction, Scholz said. He also pointed out that there was great potential in the area of business cooperation: “We should expand reciprocal trade further. Legal security for companies and solid financial and economic policy are cornerstones in this regard.”

Debate concerning the visit

The Turkish President’s visit to Germany had given rise to public debate even before it took place. During government question time in the Bundestag on 15 November , Federal Chancellor Scholz said very clearly that “the things that require discussion will always be discussed, including opposing views. This is also very important in this matter, to be clear and to explain one’s own position unambiguously.”