ISTANBUL: Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday vowed continuity in Germany’s relations with Turkey that included both cooperation and criticism of Ankara as she paid her final visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Merkel and Erdogan developed complex but close relations over the German chancellor’s 16-year term that navigated the perils of Turkey’s tumultuous ties with the West.
Their personal bond was instrumental in helping Europe manage a refugee crisis in 2016 and calm simmering tensions in the east Mediterranean last year.
Merkel also helped iron out some of the difficulties that have crept into Erdogan’s relations with Washington and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two leaders had lunch and private talks in a presidential villa overlooking the Bosphorus on the latest leg of Merkel’s parting foreign tour.
“I have always said that our collaboration was very good in the years that I worked with Mr Erdogan,” Merkel told reporters after the talks.
“I criticised Turkey on the issue of human rights and individual freedoms. We looked for solutions. We could have differences, but we depended on each other,” she said.
The 67-year-old German leader said her “advice” to Turkey today was to expect “the same thing for the coming government in Germany”.
“The relationship between Turkey and Germany, with its negative and positive sides, will go on. It will be recognised by the next government,” she said.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2021