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“With each bomb, Russia removes itself further from the global community”

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Federal Chancellor Scholz visits Turkey “With each bomb, Russia removes itself further from the global community”

On his inaugural visit to Turkey, Federal Chancellor Scholz paid tribute to the close bilateral relationship between Germany and Turkey. His talks with President Erdoğan focused on Putin’s attack on Ukraine and joint measures to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

5 min reading time

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, welcomes Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Federal Chancellor Scholz and President Erdoğan of Turkey stressed the need for a ceasefire in Ukraine as soon as possible.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Against the background of the ongoing war, terrible images and reports of dreadful suffering in Ukraine, the Federal Chancellor Scholz used his visit to Ankara to stress that there was complete unity in condemning Russia's violent military action in Ukraine.

The Federal Chancellor called for a ceasefire as soon as possible: “It is the right thing now to prevent further human lives being put at risk. There must be safe corridors so that civilians can make their way out of dangerous areas. This also needs to happen immediately.” Scholz stressed that, “With each bomb, Russia removes itself further from the global community”

Diplomatic efforts

Scholz issued a joint appeal to the Russian President: “Stop and think: this conflict can only be solved by diplomatic means.” The Federal Chancellor noted how intensive efforts had been undertaken through talks in recent weeks. The two parties discussed their respective talks with President Zelensky and President Putin, saying: “It is vital that these talks do not break down – they must be continued. However, we must rapidly seek to achieve outcomes that facilitate a ceasefire,” Scholz said.

With this in mind, Scholz welcomed the talks held last week in Antalya and the efforts of the Turkish President to contribute to a diplomatic solution: “I welcome the fact that you have mediated talks between the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine.“

Humanitarian aid and support for security policy

With hundreds of thousands of refugees, particularly in Poland but also in Germany and Turkey, the Federal Chancellor stressed that, “It falls to us to ensure that this is handled more effectively .” He also noted that there was a desire to ensure that Ukraine was able to defend itself, in part through financial aid, but also through humanitarian and military assistance.  

In this context, Scholz thanked the Turkish government for closing passage of the Bosporus to warships of the conflicting parties under the Montreux Convention. “This makes a major contribution to de-escalating the current crisis and I want to thank you expressly for your support here,” said Scholz.

The Federal Chancellor emphasised his view that Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity were beyond dispute, as “infringing Ukraine's sovereign rights is an exceptional infringement of European law and peace in Europe.”    

Scholz stressed that the changed security situation made effective cooperation within NATO particularly important. He also reinforced Germany's commitment to work with other NATO states to strengthen its presence along its eastern border, such as on the Baltic, in Slovakia and through Air Policing over Romania.

“The violent breach of the law being undertaken by Russia means that we must be safe, secure and strong enough,” Scholz said, adding that it was therefore particularly important for defences to function well. On this point, Scholz drew attention to the 100 billion euro special fund to strengthen Germany’s self-defence and collective defence capabilities.   

Cooperating on energy policy

The Federal Chancellor also emphasised the significance of developing economic relations, particularly with regard to cooperation on energy policy. In view of Germany's goal of phasing out fossil energies, Scholz stressed the need to boost cooperation around renewable resources such as importing hydrogen, and also to diversify the energy supply infrastructure.

According to the Federal Chancellor, Germany's goal was to solve the problem of its dependency on Russia and step by step to create the sovereignty it needed to take its own decisions, “regardless of how geopolitical relations develop.” As part of this, he cited opportunities for collaboration with Turkey, such as the construction of LNG terminals on the German coast to import gas from around the world.

Reinforcing the transatlantic alliance

The Federal Chancellor stressed the importance of collaborations within NATO as a basis for close collaboration between western democracies. “It is vital that the states that belong to NATO, including Turkey, cooperate closely with a shared knowledge that we must defend our safety and security,” Scholz said, adding that regional collaboration and questions connected to democracy and human rights were particularly important.

In this context the Federal Chancellor welcomed Turkey's talks with the President of Israel and the Prime Minister of Greece.   

Cooperation with the EU

Scholz also noted the efforts to deepen relations between Turkey and the EU in the form of more intensive high-level discussions between the two parties and further development of the Customs Union.

“Our ongoing collaboration on migration is also important, as is our duty to offer sanctuary to refugees,” Scholz said, adding that this was a humanitarian obligation that had to be upheld.

Bilateral partnership

Noting the many people of Turkish descent who had lived in Germany for years and that such people were active in politics, Scholz underlined the importance of good bilateral relations: “We want to keep improving our close bilateral relationship”.

With regard to differences and diverging perspectives, the Federal Chancellor discussed issues of human rights and the rule of law, as well as proceedings against German nationals in Germany who are currently in custody or under house arrest. “We hope that many of these cases will be resolved quickly.”

“We want to do our utmost to expand our bilateral relations and to fully exploit the enormous potential of our cooperation. That is what my government stands for,” the Federal Chancellor stressed. On his first visit to Turkey, Federal Chancellor Scholz was received with full military honours. Prior to his meeting with the Turkish president, he laid a wreath at the mausoleum of Kemal Atatürk.

Germany and Turkey are connected by diverse and close relationships, to which the roughly three million people of Turkish descent who live in Germany make a major contribution Germany is Turkey’s key trade partner and one of the largest foreign investors in the country. In 2020 bilateral trade between the two countries was worth 36.6 billion euros. Turkey has been a candidate for EU membership since 2005, whereby the Federal Government regards the accession negotiations as an open-ended process. The Federal Government is supporting Turkey bilaterally and through the EU as it takes in and provides for refugees within its borders, thereby strengthening the structures of the receiving communities.