Merkel won’t attend refugee center opening in Turkey: Spokesman
BERLIN – Agence France-PresseGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel has no plans to travel to Turkey this week to inaugurate a new center for Syrian refugees, her spokesman said April 13, despite a previous announcement by Ankara.
The clarification by the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, about the trip announced last week by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu comes amid soaring tensions over a vulgar satirical poem by German TV comic.
“I have been asked a half dozen times in the last days and weeks about this trip on April 16 and never confirmed this trip, this appointment, and that is still the case,” Seibert told reporters.
“There will be no trip on April 16, this Saturday, to Turkey.”
Davutoğlu had said that Merkel would join other European leaders in opening the school and hospital in the southeastern province of Kilis on the Syrian border, which houses a massive refugee camp for Syrians who have fled their country’s devastating five-year war.
The center was built under a new agreement between Turkey and the EU, spearheaded by Merkel, which aims to stem mass migration to Europe and the drowning of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats.
Despite Davutoğlu’s announcement, German authorities never confirmed the visit to the city, which is frequently a target of rocket fire from Syria.
Seibert did not say why Merkel did not accept the Turkish invitation.