Merkel promises continuity on last visit to Erdogan – .

Merkel promises continuity on last visit to Erdogan – .

Istanbul (AFP)

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday promised continuity in Germany’s relations with Turkey, which included both cooperation and criticism from Ankara during her last visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Merkel and Erdogan developed a complex but close relationship during the German Chancellor’s 16-year tenure that overcame the perils of Turkey’s tumultuous relations with the West.

Their personal connection helped help Europe deal with a refugee crisis in 2016 and ease latent tensions in the eastern Mediterranean last year.

Merkel also helped iron out some of the difficulties that crept into Erdogan’s relationship with Washington and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The two leaders had lunch and private talks in a presidential villa overlooking the Bosphorus on the final stop of Merkel’s latest foreign tour.

“I have always said that our collaboration was very good during the years I worked with Mr Erdogan,” Merkel told reporters after the interviews.

“I criticized Turkey on the issue of human rights and individual freedoms. We looked for solutions. We could have differences, but we were dependent on each other, ”she said.

The 67-year-old German leader said her “advice” to Turkey today was to expect “the same for the next German government.

“The relationship between Turkey and Germany, with its negative and positive sides, will continue. It will be recognized by the next government, ”she said.

– ‘Dear friend’ –

Erdogan called Merkel a “dear friend” twice during the closing media event.

But he also hinted at the difficulties Turkey might have in promoting its interests after Merkel formally ceded place to a new coalition government taking shape in Berlin after last month’s elections.

“If there hadn’t been a coalition government, (Germany’s) relations with Turkey might have been easier. Of course, it is not easy to work with a coalition government, ”Erdogan said.

Erdogan ruled Turkey as prime minister when Merkel became the first woman to rule Germany in 2005.

The two have since shared a long list of differences and many difficult exchanges on issues ranging from Turkey’s crackdown on human rights to its military campaigns in Syria and Libya.

But Germany has also played a central role in defusing a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean that erupted last year when Turkey began searching for natural gas in disputed waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece.

Analysts say Merkel was more supportive of Erdogan’s position due to the presence of around three million ethnic Turks in Germany.

She has also been sensitive to Erdogan’s threats to let around five million migrants and refugees living temporarily in Turkey under a 2016 deal with the EU leave for Europe unless Ankara’s interests are met. are not respected by Brussels.

“Their relationship was very difficult in many ways, but they managed to establish and maintain a working cooperation,” analyst Gunter Seufert of the German Institute for Security and International Affairs told AFP.

“With the new chancellor, no matter who he is (…) it will be more difficult to coordinate European policy with Turkey at the level and to the degree of Angela Merkel. ”


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