Erdoğan and Merkel agree on joint action
ISTANBULTurkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on May 23 that Turkey needs talks with EU institutions on its sensitivities in the fight against terrorism as they try to keep a landmark migration deal on track.
Erdogan’s office said in a statement that he and Merkel had also agreed, during a meeting on the sidelines of a humanitarian summit in Istanbul, on the need to continue cooperation against illegal migration.
The EU has promised visa-free travel for Turks as part of the migration deal, provided Ankara meets criteria including changes to its broad anti-terrorism laws.
Erdoğan has said Turkey cannot change such laws at a time when it is fighting the threat from both outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Merkel said she had voiced concern in talks with Erdoğan over the Turkish parliament’s recent decision to strip some lawmakers of immunity.
“I’ve made this clear in the conversation today that I also think we need an independent judicial system, we need independent media and we need a strong parliament,” Merkel said after the meeting.
“And of course, the decision to withdraw immunity from every fourth lawmaker in the Turkish parliament is something that causes deep concern. I’ve made this clear to the Turkish president,” Merkel said.