Merkel, Er­do­gan to re­build ties de­spite rifts

Viet Nam News - - WORLD -

BER­LIN — Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan vowed yes­ter­day to re­build strained re­la­tions af­ter a two-year cri­sis de­spite re­main­ing dif­fer­ences on civil rights and other is­sues.

Er­do­gan was vis­it­ing the top EU econ­omy, home to three mil­lion peo­ple of Turk­ish de­scent, in what Ger­man me­dia have de­scribed as a charm of­fen­sive.

Turkey is suf­fer­ing eco­nomic tur­bu­lence ag­gra­vated by US sanc­tions stem­ming from a row with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The three-day state visit is be­ing held un­der tight se­cu­rity as thou­sands were due to protest against the Turk­ish leader un­der the ban­ner “Er­do­gan Not Wel­come”.

Merkel and Er­do­gan stressed the need to re­build tra­di­tional ties that hit a his­toric low af­ter a 2016 failed coup and sub­se­quent crack­down in Turkey.

The two NATO al­lies agreed to jointly dis­cuss the Syria cri­sis in a meet­ing next month with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Em­manuel Macron of France, Merkel said at a joint press con­fer­ence.

But the gulf be­tween them re­mained ap­par­ent on is­sues from press free­dom to the fate of Ger­man or dual cit­i­zens be­ing held be­hind bars in Turkey, and on whether Ger­many should ex­tra­dite Er­do­gan’s de­clared foes.

Merkel, un­der pres­sure at home for giv­ing Er­do­gan the red-car­pet treat­ment, said there was “on both sides a joint strate­gic in­ter­est in good re­la­tions” de­spite “deep dif­fer­ences... es­pe­cially in ques­tions about a demo­cratic, open so­ci­ety”.

But she stressed that con­tin­ued di­a­logue was the best way to over­come those dif­fer­ences.

She also vowed to keep push­ing for the re­lease of five Ger­man cit­i­zens still be­ing held in Turkey.

‘Win-win’ busi­ness

At the height of the cri­sis, Ber­lin had urged its cit­i­zens and com­pa­nies to stay away from Turkey and pulled out its troops from NATO bases.

How­ever, re­la­tions have thawed some­what since Turkey in Fe­bru­ary re­leased prom­i­nent Ger­man-Turk­ish jour­nal­ist Deniz Yu­cel.

Trump in Au­gust raised tar­iffs on Turk­ish alu­minium and steel, in re­tal­i­a­tion for the de­ten­tion of an Amer­i­can pas­tor on ter­ror­ism charges in Turkey.

On Turkey’s eco­nomic woes, Merkel said that “Ger­many has an in­ter­est in an eco­nom­i­cally sta­ble Turkey” with GDP growth.

Er­do­gan, who at the height of the diplo­matic cri­sis had ac­cused Ber­lin of “Nazi-like prac­tices”, also struck a con­cil­ia­tory tone, point­ing to “win-win” busi­ness projects on the hori­zon.

On the ques­tion of open trade, he said, with­out men­tion­ing Trump, that “we are of the same opin­ion as Ger­many” and that pro­tec­tion­ism “spells a great dan­ger for global se­cu­rity”.

How­ever, he said Ger­many was do­ing too lit­tle to deal with thou­sands of Kur­dish mil­i­tants on its soil.

He com­plained that Ger­many was re­fus­ing to ex­tra­dite fol­low­ers of Mus­lim cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, whom he blames for the coup at­tempt.

Merkel said Ger­many re­gards the Kur­dish Work­ers Party (PKK) as a banned mil­i­tant or­gan­i­sa­tion but was not con­vinced it should treat the Gulen move­ment the same way. — AFP

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