Merkel calls Turkey’s Davutoğlu to discuss upcoming EU summit

Merkel calls Turkey’s Davutoğlu to discuss upcoming EU summit

Merkel calls Turkey’s Davutoğlu to discuss upcoming EU summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R), Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, AFP Photos.

As her party braced for a backlash at key state polls on March 13 over her liberal refugee policy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel exchanged views with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on an upcoming special summit between Ankara and the EU aimed at sealing a deal to stem illegal migrant flows from Turkey to Europe.

During a telephone conversation on March 13 initiated by the German side, Merkel and Davutoğlu reviewed the results of a special summit on the migration crisis held in Brussels on March 7, sources from the Turkish Prime Minister’s office told state-run Anadolu Agency.

The two leaders also discussed preparations for a Turkey-EU summit where a deal is due to be finalized on March 17-18 that would see Turkey take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece, the same sources said.

Davutoğlu is said to have conveyed to Merkel the “modalities” to be fulfilled regarding the implementation of visa-free access for Turkish citizens to the EU, new chapters expected to be opened in Turkey’s membership negotiations with the EU, the fight against illegal migration, readmission and resettlement.

For her part, Merkel confirmed the will of EU countries, led by Germany, to strengthen cooperation with Turkey and give detailed information regarding the summit on March 18, they said.

During last week’s summit in Brussels, Ankara proposed an arrangement under which the EU would legally resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey in exchange for every illegal Syrian that Turkey takes from Greece, in a bid to reduce the incentive for people to board boats for Europe.

In return Turkey wants billions of euros in aid, visa-free access to Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone and a speeding up of Ankara’s efforts to join the EU.

Migration is the hot topic, as many people worry how Germany will cope with an influx, totaling more than a million last year alone, that has come to define Merkel’s leadership and on which she has staked her reputation. 

Germans voted in three regional state elections on March 13, with the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party looking to profit from popular anger about Merkel’s migrant policy. 

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have been losing support to the AfD, which has profited from the growing unease. A poor CDU performance would weaken Merkel just as she tries to push through a deal to resolve Europe’s migrant crisis.