Column: Merkel tries to explain the unexplainable


The visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Ankara was not the bed of roses predicted. Besides frank discussions over the outstanding issues between Ankara and Berlin, she came here with an agenda to prod Ankara over the alleged human rights problems in Turkey and thus appease certain circles in Germany.

So in the process she seemed at odds with the Turkish leaders at the press conferences after her talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.

But in essence, the issues discussed in the bilateral talks and behind closed doors were in fact not so stormy.

Merkel had to endure the unpleasant task of trying to explain to the Turkish leaders the German position in view of the problems that have hurt relations between the two countries.

She was reprimanded by President Erdoğan for her comments about “Islamic terrorists” and he told her that Islam and terrorism do not go together and as a Muslim the president detests such references.

It is clear that Merkel was told to make references to human rights issues to appease the enemies of Turkey in Germany including journalist Can Dündar, the PKK followers and the supporters of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) who staged the failed coup in Turkey on July 15.

She even talked about the Turkish religious officials in Germany who warned the Germans about the Gülenists and were labeled spies. She seems to have carried out her mission with some embarrassment and some reluctance.

But behind closed doors there were very frank but positive discussions. Merkel is aware she is walking on thin ice and any move to anger Ankara means the shelving of the migrant deal, which means Syrians will flood Europe.,

Merkel agreed that the European Union has been too slow to fulfill its obligations regarding the migrant deal with Turkey but promised to speed up the process.

She informed our people that the EU has signed 2 billion euros worth of project deals with Turkey for the Syrian migrants and has already given 700 million euros to the Turkish side.

She promised that the second 3 billion euros will also be provided to Turkey.

Additionally, Merkel promised to help in the legal process for the extradition of the Gülenist militants who have sought refuge in Germany. She offered talks between the justice, defense and interior ministers of the two countries.

It is clear that Merkel sees the growing cooperation between Turkey and Britain as a challenge and is prepared to go the distance to enhance economic relations between Ankara and Berlin.

One Turkish official who participated in the talks between Merkel and Erdoğan and earlier between British Prime Minister Theresa May and the president summarized the visit of the German leader as, “it was not as warm as the visit by May but in regard to issues discussed and the weight of the outstanding issues, the Merkel visit was quite positive and constructive.”

Turkey is finding a place for itself while a new world is being formed. Merkel has to realize that Germany is missing the train as she struggles to maintain a brave face and prevent the European Union boat from sinking. Dündar, Gülenist militants and the PKK cannot be a remedy for her.