Merkel set to visit Turkey next week
Reuters photoGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Turkey next week with representatives from the European Union, German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on April 15.
Speaking to journalists, Seibert said European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans will accompany Merkel during her visit on April 23.
Merkel will arrive in the southeastern province of Gaziantep from Germany directly and will visit the refugee camps, hospitals and schools in the border province of Kilis, Deutsche Welle reported.
It is yet unknown who the Turkish official tasked to greet Merkel will be.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had said that Merkel would join other European leaders in opening a school and hospital in Kilis, 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 Aegean in rickety boats.
Despite Davutoğlu’s announcement, German authorities had not previously confirmed the visit to the city, which is frequently a target of rocket fire from Syria.
The visit comes amid a diplomatic row between Germany and Turkey. Ankara has requested that German comedian Jan Boehmermann be prosecuted over a poem he recited on German television about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Merkel said she accepted Turkey’s request to seek prosecution of Boehmermann on April 15.