Erdogan urges fresh start in Turkish-German relations

By Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN (AA) – Turkey’s president has called for opening a fresh page in Turkish-German relations amid an era of new global challenges.

“The dramatic developments in the world make it indispensable for both Germany and Turkey to open a new page in bilateral relations, to leave aside their differences and focus on their common interests,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote in an article published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Wednesday, on the eve of his arrival in Germany.

Erdogan said both countries face similar challenges and threats such as terrorism, irregular refugee movements, and trade wars.

“We are obliged to enhance our relations based on our mutual interests, in a reasonable way,” he stressed.

“Let us concentrate on our common interests, the common challenges and threats we face. With respect to our disagreements, we should keep all dialogue channels open, continue our exchanges, and by showing maximum empathy, we should try to understand our mutual sensitivities,” he added.

Erdogan will arrive in Germany on Thursday for a high-profile state visit aiming to improve political and economic ties between the two countries.

During his three-day visit, Erdogan will meet his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier and will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Erdogan’s visit comes at a time of growing tensions between the U.S. and Germany over U.S. President Donald Trump’s unilateral moves in foreign policy and his imposition of additional tariffs on foreign goods.

Developments in Syria, cooperation to address the refugee crisis, and economic and trade relations between Turkey and Germany are other expected topics on the agenda.

Relations between Ankara and Berlin have suffered setbacks in past years, but both sides have taken steps in recent months towards improving ties.

Erdogan will be accompanied by key aides during his visit, including the ministers responsible for the economy, finance, trade, and industry.

EU heavyweight Germany remains Turkey’s main economic and trade partner. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached €37.6 billion ($43.6 billion).