Ankara, Berlin agree to deepen cooperation amid Russia-Ukraine war
Turkey and Germany pledged on March 14 to continue diplomatic work for a ceasefire in Ukraine, while emphasizing the importance of their bilateral ties and their NATO partnership.
“As NATO allies, we have confirmed our common opinions and worries,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was on his first official trip to Turkey since taking office in December last year.
“We will continue our efforts to establish a permanent ceasefire... I believe that our existing high-level consultation mechanisms with Germany should be revived in this turbulent period we are going through,” the president said.
Scholz stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine and called on Russia to immediately stop its attacks on the country. “With each day, with each bomb, Russia is moving further away from the international community,’’ he said.
Scholz praised Turkey for closing the Bosphorus Strait to warships from parties to the conflict in Ukraine. The move mainly affects Russia’s access to the Mediterranean from the Black Sea.
Erdoğan avoided a direct answer to what Turkey would do with its Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, saying it was too early to know.
“There are weapons we have purchased so far. It would be premature to talk about what the future will show under the current conditions. It is necessary to see what the conditions bring,” he said.
The United States has been infuriated by Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missiles, saying they pose a risk to NATO systems, sanctioning defense officials and removing Turkey from its stealth fighter jet program.
Responding to a question if Turkey will comply with international sanctions against Russia, the president underlined Ankara has to maintain its close ties with both Kiev and Moscow.
“We have to maintain our friendship with [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. As for the sanctions issue, we have done what was necessary so far within the framework of U.N. rules,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan added that Turkey had been providing support for Ukraine “despite Russia’’ and more than other NATO countries. He noted that Turkey had been sending more than 50 trucks of humanitarian aid.
Germany and Turkey have significant trade relations, with bilateral trade in 2021 rising above $41 billion in 2021.
Erdoğan said he hopes trade will reach $50 billion this year. Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, closely linking the two countries.
Germany also considers Turkey an important partner in efforts to handle Europe’s migration influx, especially with thousands of people trying to reach Europe from Turkey each year.