Turkey’s Erdogan bids farewell to Merkel after 16 years

During the last visit of Angela Merkel as German Chancellor to Turkey on Saturday, two of Europe’s longest-serving heads of state and government …

During the last visit of Angela Merkel as German Chancellor to Turkey on Saturday, two of Europe’s longest-serving heads of state and government paid tribute to each other when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received them for farewell talks with a view of the Bosphorus.

Erdogan had been in office for more than two years when Merkel came to power in 2005. Since then, they have built a pragmatic relationship that has weathered several crises.

“I hope that our successful work with Ms. Merkel will continue in the same way under the new government,” said Erdogan at a press conference in Istanbul.

The heads of state and government discussed Turkey’s relations with Germany and the European Union as well as Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara’s interests collided with those of Europe.

However, Merkel has often taken a conciliatory stance towards Turkey and emphasized the common interests of Turkey and the West.

After taking in hundreds of thousands of refugees in Germany in 2015, she emphasized Turkey’s role in preventing such mass migration to Europe from happening again and helped draw up an agreement for Turkey to curb the influx of people trying to cross the Aegean Sea .

The topic of migration dominated the comments of the heads of state and government on Saturday. Merkel pledged to continue EU support to Turkey, which is hosting 4 million refugees, and said the new government in Berlin will value relations with Turkey. The political parties in Germany have been holding talks on a new coalition government since the September elections, and Merkel will remain in an administrative role until that government is in office.

“We always have common interests, and that is how the next federal government will see it,” she said.

Erdogan thanked his guest for their “positive contributions” in Turkey’s long-standing application for EU membership and for their support for the 3 million Turkish community in Germany.

Relations with Turkey proved to be one of the most difficult areas for Merkel during her 16-year tenure, especially as Erdogan intensified attacks on European leaders while overseeing growing authoritarianism in his own country.

In Ankara’s foreign policy, Merkel’s government has also supported limited EU sanctions against Turkey and restrictions on arms sales.

Germany has raised concerns about the influence of Turkish institutions within its borders and banned Turkish politicians from campaigning in 2017, leading Erdogan to compare German officials with Nazis. In Ankara there are concerns that the next German government will be less tolerant of such differences.

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