At a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Chancellor Angela Merkel pointed to the close partnership that exists between Germany and Turkey. This is partly thanks to the three million people with Turkish roots who today live in Germany, and partly also thanks to the five million or more German tourists who visit Turkey every year. "And that is why relations are much broader than mere links between political actors."
This was the first time that German-Turkish government consultations had been held. Several line ministers took part, alongside the heads of government. In January 2015 Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu agreed to hold regular government consultations in order to reflect the full spectrum of German-Turkish relations.
The two politicians agreed that they could only cope with the challenges posed by the influx of refugees by working together.
Turkey, said Angela Merkel, has taken in more than 2.5 million refugees. There must be some burden sharing – firstly with "legal contingents, that give people an opportunity to enter Europe without risking their lives". Neither country "can allow illegal smugglers and traffickers to rule the seas that separate Turkey and Greece."
Equally, Turkey must be given financial support, stressed the Chancellor. Within the framework of the joint action plan adopted on 29 November 2015, the EU will provide Turkey with support totalling 3 billion euros. Angela Merkel reported that she had expressly confirmed this again to Ahmet Davutoğlu. Now concrete projects must be devised swiftly, "because we want the assistance to reach the people it is intended for".
Schooling for refugee children must be improved, as must health care. She was happy to note, she said, that the Turkish government has introduced work permits for Syrian refugees.
Both sides are looking with great interest to the donor conference to be held in London on 4 February. It will aim to improve the living conditions of refugees and enhance job prospects in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
With regard to the conflict with the Kurdish minority in Turkey and the terrorist organisation PKK, Angela Merkel said that she had pointed out during her talks with Ahmet Davutoğlu that "the foundations must be put in place for a political process".
A great many innocent people are affected, she said and added, "It is very important to save human lives as far as possible, and to ensure that young people in particular in these parts of Turkey are given prospects of a better life."
She agreed with the Turkish Prime Minister, said Angela Merkel, that both countries would continue to stand up to terrorism, to carry forward and intensify the fight against the so-called IS, and that in this they would act together.
Speaking in German, Ahmet Davutoğlu extended to the German people the sympathy of the Turkish people for the victims of the terrorist attack in Istanbul on 12 January. "The victims were our guests – and they are now our friends for ever. We mourn with the families and the friends of the victims." The crime has shown that terrorism cuts across religious and ethnic lines.
At the close of the German-Turkish government consultations the two sides published a joint statement.
Government consultations are meetings between the governments of two states. They give both sides the opportunity to gain first hand information and allow the two sides to consult. Government consultations are considered to be an expression of extremely close cooperation between two states.