Merkel meets Turkish prime minister, reiterates ‘Islamist terrorism’

Angela Merkel and Binali Yildirim in joint press statement/Anadolu Agency

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at the prime ministerial residence in Ankara, after her meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace earlier on Thursday.

Prime Minister Yildirim spoke to CNN Turk before the meeting with his German counterpart, saying that one of the main points of discussion would be the “anti-Turkish hostilities in German media and politics.”

The prime minister said to CNN he wished to remind Chancellor Merkel of “the 3.5 million Turks living in Germany, of which most are voters. While she might satisfy the separatists on the one hand, she should be careful not to ignore or upset the fundamental component consisting of millions of productive, hard working brothers”.

During the joint statement, Merkel highlighted her sensitivities in regards to the political atmosphere in Turkey after last year’s coup attempt saying, “We hope that the importance of political freedom, press freedom and the separation of powers will not be neglected while taking political actions”. Yildirim responded by stating “we are hearing of complaints. But mistakes can be made when responding to a coup attempt that involved hundreds of thousands of people”.

“Europe’s security is tied to Turkey. Turkey is home to 3 million refugees. Turkey is stopping terrorism from reaching the EU. We are certain that Europe will appreciate this fact,” Binali Yildirim said.

The prime minister also said they discussed the Cyprus issue and that “a fair rule in a federation of two in a united Cyprus is a solution desired by Europe, Turkey and Greece.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel made use of the term ‘Islamist terrorism’ again, despite Erdogan’s protest earlier the same day. She underlined that “there are no suspicions towards Muslims whatsoever, what we are talking about are the people who want to kill people and put an end to democracy. We are in this struggle together.”

The chancellor said that 2.2 billion of the 3 billion Euros had been transferred to Turkey as part of the refugee deal and that Germany would continue to accept 500 refugees per month.

Merkel also said that they discussed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and that the ministry of interior will continue to work on the issue.

Dr. Gunther Seufert, Senior Researcher with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, said to Medyascope that the visit should not be interpreted as support for President Erdogan and the constitutional reform package and that “Germany and Europe have their own agenda, immediately after her Turkey visit, the chancellor will participate in an EU summit in Malta during which the refugee crisis will be discussed.”

Merkel, who has been criticised for her one-day trip to Turkey, was also said to be scheduled to meet with representatives of the two major opposition parties, the People’s Republican Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).