German Chancellor Angela Merkel has embarked on a farewell visit to Istanbul to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The two leaders were set to discuss bilateral ties “along with an exchange of views on the EU membership process of Turkey as well as regional and international issues,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry told Germany’s DPA news agency, ahead of the talks on Saturday.
Talks likely to focus on migration
The movement of refugees and asylum-seekers from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is expected to figure high on the agenda.
Turkey plays a key role in accepting refugees and managing migratory flows to the European Union. The country has already taken in around 3.7 million people from Syria and hundreds of thousands from other countries, such as Afghanistan.
Merkel is co-architect of the European Union’s refugee pact with Turkey, which gives the Ankara government financial support in return for limiting the number of asylum-seekers and migrants who cross the Aegean Sea into EU territory.
Since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan, there have been concerns that tens of thousands of people will flee the war-ravaged country and try to enter Europe by traversing through Turkey.
The EU wants to pay Turkey another €3 billion ($3.5 billion), which could be used to support Afghans escaping the Taliban. But Erdogan has repeatedly emphasized that his country would not accept any more refugees.
German-Turkish ties on the mend
Relations between Turkey and Germany have been turbulent in recent years.
In 2017 in particular, the imprisonment of German citizens put a heavy strain on the relationship between Berlin and Ankara.
A low point was reached after Erdogan attacked the Chancellor personally with Nazi comparisons in the same year.
In the meantime, both sides have come closer to each other, but the prosecution of German citizens and Turkish opposition members is still a point of contention.
On Tuesday, a German of Kurdish origin was sentenced to more than two years in prison in Turkey for terrorist propaganda.
As in many other cases, the background was critical posts on social media.
mm/sri (AFP, dpa)Internet Explorer Channel Network