Westerwelle visits Turkey
On 14 May, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met his Turkish opposite number, Ahmed Davutoğlu, in Ankara. The programme for his visit to Turkey also included taking part in the Kronberg Talks in Istanbul, where discussions focused on the changes sweeping North Africa and parts of the Arab world.
Westerwelle’s talks with Davutoğlu centred around current international affairs – particularly the situation in Syria and the Iranian nuclear programme. Both Foreign Ministers expressed concern at the continuing violence in Syria.
“We are convinced that Kofi Annan’s plan for a political solution needs to be given a real chance,” Westerwelle said, underlining the need for all sides to end the violence. Foreign Minister Westerwelle also articulated his recognition and gratitude in response to the way Turkey had been helping Syrian refugees. Turkey, he said, played a “key role” in the resolution of many conflicts in international relations. He went on to explain that the country had turned itself into a “breathtaking economic and political success story”, as demonstrated by its growing strategic significance.
Fresh impetus in EU-Turkish relations
Talks with Davutoğlu also turned to Turkey’s relations with the European Union and Germany. “Turkey is a powerhouse with which we want to collaborate not only economically but also politically and strategically, and particularly on the world stage,” Westerwelle insisted. Now was the time, he said, to take the opportunity to inject fresh impetus into relations between the European Union and Turkey. He pledged Germany’s support for this cause.
After his appointments in Ankara, Westerwelle travelled on to Istanbul for the 14th Kronberg Talks on 15 May. There too, he spoke in favour of reinvigorating EU-Turkish relations. In Westerwelle’s words, “Europe must offer Turkey a fair deal in the accession negotiations.” Progress, he said, had to be made contingent on what Turkey achieved, not on domestic considerations elsewhere. He said he was optimistic that the impasse could be overcome if Turkey continued on the path of reform.
Intensifying bilateral relations
Westerwelle also advocated further intensifying bilateral cooperation between Germany and Turkey. Possibilities he named included launching a strategic dialogue chaired by the Foreign Ministers and establishing more exchange programmes for young Germans and Turks.
Run by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Kronberg Talks bring together participants from politics, academia, business and civil society to examine in particular the challenges which Europe and Turkey are facing as a result of the changes in North Africa and parts of the Arab world.
A “historic opportunity” in the Arab world
In the speech he gave at the Kronberg Talks, Foreign Minister Westerwelle examined the “historic opportunity” inherent in the changes sweeping North Africa and the Arab world. Both the European Union and Turkey, he said, had the potential to play key roles in fostering democratic and economic transition in the region. He attached particular importance in this area to improving economic stability and ensuring that the local inhabitants have a real stake in the economic and social lives of their countries.
After his visit to Turkey, Foreign Minister Westerwelle will travel on to Vienna, where he will take part in a meeting of the Future of Europe Group with several other EU Foreign Ministers. They will engage in an informal exchange of views on the future of the EU and the challenges that lie ahead for Europe. The Vienna meeting will be the third time that the EU Foreign Ministers have convened in this format, following two earlier meetings in Berlin and Brussels.
Last updated 15.05.2012