Merkel plans farewell visit to Erdoğan
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to pay a farewell trip to Turkey in the coming days to hold talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Daily Sabah newspaper reported on Sunday.
Merkel last visited Turkey in January 2020, just prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. She and Erdoğan have held several video conference calls since and have met at global political summits.
Germany has established closer relations with Turkey during Merkel’s tenure, which began in 2005. Last year, Merkel led opposition to a French-led plan to impose tough sanctions on the country in a dispute with EU member Greece over territorial waters in the eastern Mediterranean. She has also led efforts in Europe to increase financing for Turkey’s hosting of Syrian refugees.
Annual trade volume between Turkey and Germany reached $38 billion at the beginning of the year, according to Turkish officials. Germany is home to the Europe’s highest population of ethnic Turks.
Merkel’s frequent courting of Erdoğan has prompted criticism among his opponents in Turkey and Europe that she is helping to facilitate democratic backsliding and rising human rights abuses in the country. Merkel is due to step down as chancellor when a coalition government is formed following German elections late last month.
In August, Merkel proposed to her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) to enhance cooperation with Turkey to stem an anticipated flow of refugees from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, Turkish media reported.