Giving special attention to dialogue with Turkey is something about which Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is firmly convinced. Today Steinmeier met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks in Berlin.
Turkey – an indispensable partner
In preparation for the visit of Prime Minister Erdoğan, Steinmeier already met his Turkish opposite number Ahmet Davutoğlu in Berlin on Monday.
On Tuesday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan then arrived in the German capital.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier met him at the Turkish Embassy for intensive dialogue. Beforehand Erdoğan had already held talks with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in the course of his Berlin visit.
In the run-up to the visit Foreign Minister Steinmeier had described Turkey as an important and indispensable partner in an interview with the daily newspaper Hürriyet. He advocated paying special attention to dialogue with Turkey. He said that this was what the three million people of Turkish origin living in Germany expected. However, Steinmeier also sees crucial significance for Turkey in its geostrategic location with regard to trouble spots such as Syria. He stated that he is therefore working to extend the strategic dialogue between Germany and Turkey.
- Read Foreign Minister Steinmeier's interview in full here:"Turkey - an indispensable partner" (published in the daily newspaper "Hürriyet" on 1 February)
EU: the door must remain open
On Monday Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed his Turkish counterpart Davutoğlu to the Federal Foreign Office. Their talks focused on bilateral relations, also in connection with the EU, and international issues, above all the conflicts in their common neighbourhood.
The Foreign Ministers agreed that Germany and Turkey had achieved a considerable amount through their cooperation. Against the backdrop of the ongoing German-Turkish Year of Science and Technology, Steinmeier cited examples of joint projects such as the German-Turkish University, the Ernst Reuter Initiative and the Tarabya Cultural Academy.
With regard to the progress of EU accession negotiations with Turkey, Foreign Minister Steinmeier emphasised that Germany was among those who stated that “the door must remain open for Turkey”. In view of the most recent internal developments in Turkey, the Foreign Minister added,
(We) are among those who say that it is probably best to open up Chapters 23 and 24, which deal with human rights and justice and many other things, and then to enter into a serious and viable discussion on what the situation in Turkey looks like at the moment.
Common neighbourhood: Syria, the Middle East and Ukraine
The meeting between Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his counterpart from Ankara also spotlighted the conflicts in their common neighbourhood. With regard to Syria, Steinmeier expressed his hope that a second round of talks would bring success:
It is high time we saw some progress to give humanitarian relief agencies the opportunity to alleviate the suffering of civilians in Syria and the neighbouring countries. That could be a way to achieve what we are actually striving for – making possible a political solution for Syria.
With regard to the mediation efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry in the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, however, Steinmeier said he had more hope. The German and Turkish Foreign Ministers also reiterated their intention to do what they could to support their American counterpart in resolving the Middle East conflict.
Ukraine at a crossroads
In connection with the current situation in Ukraine, the two Foreign Ministers stressed their desire for a political solution to the confrontation.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier underscored his conviction that this is possible. He said that the most recent decisions by the parliament and the government had generated a little movement in a situation that seemed to be in stalemate. “But now we have reached a crossroads. We now need a change in the constitutional situation which adjusts the balance of the rights of the President and the Prime Minister so that they are more in line with the constitution which was in force until 2004.”
Referring to the discussions with US Secretary of State Kerry and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, Steinmeier emphasised that letting Ukraine descend into economic chaos after a political solution had been achieved must be avoided. He said that international efforts must allow Ukraine to go down a path which offered “economic prospects for the future”.