Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during her last official trip to Turkey on Saturday.
Merkel, who has lead Germany for the past 16 years, enjoyed a friendly relationship with Turkey, despite periods of crisis.
Erdogan took power in Turkey just two years before Merkel became German Chancellor in 2005. The Turkish President stated during a press conference in Istanbul Saturday that he hopes “that our successful work with Mrs Merkel will continue in the same way under the new government.”
The German Chancellor quelled any fears about future relations between the countries by expressing that the incoming government, which will be formed from a coalition by multiple political parties, would continue the goodwill.
“We always have common interests, and that’s how the next federal government will see it,” Merkel stated during her visit.
Merkel and Erdogan discuss migrants, Greece
While in Turkey, Merkel discussed Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean, and Turkey’s clashes with the EU with Erdogan.
In the later years of the economic and migrant crisis, Turkey embarked upon a series of illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, and almost daily violations of Greek airspace.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other top officials make repeated statements against Greece, challenging the country’s sovereign rights in the Aegean.
At the same time, Turkey has violated Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone by drilling for oil and gas, while trying to separate the Turkish-occupied part from the rest of the island.
Repeated calls from the Greek side to the EU to implement sanctions against Turkey for its illegal behavior against two EU member states fell on deaf ears.
Most notably, the two leaders discussed the issue of migration during their meeting on Saturday. Since the refugee crisis began in 2015, Germany has accepted millions of migrants and refugees, many of who entered Europe from the Middle East and Asia through Turkey, into the country.
Greece was also hit by an enormous influx of refugees from Syria in the summer of 2015.
An influx of Syrians and other refugees crossed over to Greece with the aim to move to Central and Northern Europe, particularly Germany.
Germany and other European countries accommodated countless refugees and migrants. Yet, Greece had to bear the brunt of hundreds of thousands of stranded asylum seekers who had an easy entry point to the country from the coasts of Turkey.
The March 2016 deal the EU signed with Turkey for the return of refugee from Greece to Turkey created a serious problem for Greece as thousands overcrowded the reception camps on five islands.
Mentioning Greece, Erdogan stressed that although Turkey cannot accept more refugees, the country will not keep its borders closed and send refugees back to countries where they may be in danger, “like Greece did.”
In reference to relations between Greece and Turkey, Merkel stressed the continued need for discussion and diplomacy between the neighboring countries.
Germany shares a close bond with Turkey as more than three million people of Turkish origin are naturalized German citizens.