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German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives in Turkey to discuss bilateral relations

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel. © blurf | Dreamstime.com

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Turkey on January 23 to discuss “all aspects” of bilateral relations.

The visit comes at the request of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two leaders will also discuss steps for further developing cooperation between the two countries, Turkey’s Communications Directorate said in a statement earlier.

The statement said Turkey-EU relations, the process of Turkey’s accession to the EU, talks on updating the Customs Union trade deal, and the visa liberalisation dialogue are on the agenda in the framework of Germany’s EU presidency term, which is set to begin in July.

The two leaders are also expected to exchange views on regional and international issues, particularly Libya and Syria.

Merkel and Erdogan are also set to attend the official opening ceremony for the new campus of the Turkish-German University in Istanbul.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.

But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to objections of Greek Cyprus on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.

In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for almost 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.

Turkey has long complained of the EU slow delivery of promised funds for refugees and failing to uphold its end of the deal concerning visa-free travel.

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