BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
Representatives of Ankara and Berlin discussed a myriad of issues, including migration, European Union visa issues, the war on terror and the preparations for the upcoming elections, according to Türkiye’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yasin Ekrem Serim on Monday.
“We have conveyed to Germany our expectations for a solution to the problems plaguing the visa applications of Turkish businesspeople and students who want to visit Germany,” Serim told reporters following his meeting with Susanne Baumann, Germany’s secretary of state at the Federal Foreign Office.
In an intensifying issue since last year, Turkish citizens have been subject to many hurdles in obtaining visas from the EU and the United States, including increased scrutiny and monthslong waits even to grab an appointment from embassies. Several Turkish officials have called for a swift solution, lower fees, permits for multi-visa entries and “fairer” evaluation standards for people like academicians and businesspeople in terms of economic and educational activities.
The Turkish ambassador to Berlin just last week urged Germany to contribute to “simplifying” visa procedures as the country holds “the most important position in the bloc.”
Türkiye expects more solidarity from its NATO ally Germany in the war against terrorism, as well, Serim informed. “We have also relayed our expectation of cooperation and requests for security measures about threats on our missions in Germany, and the rest of Europe, from terrorism-affiliated platforms,” he explained.
The two officials further exchanged views on their shared issue of migration. “Relations about migration between two countries, as well as cooperation with the EU and Germany about this, has great importance,” Serim noted.
As a result of the successful implementation of the March 18 agreement between Türkiye and the bloc, the refugee influx to Europe has been reduced by nearly 90%, he pointed out, referring to the landmark 2016 deal in which the EU agreed to provide 6 billion euros ($6.52 billion) in humanitarian assistance to Ankara to help stem the flow of asylum-seekers passing through Türkiye to enter European borders.
“It’s important this agreement is updated and successfully maintained,” said Serim and added: “Türkiye fulfills its obligations under the deal and expects the EU to fulfill its own. We also want Germany to play a spearheading role.”
In March 2016, Ankara and Brussels signed an agreement to reduce the number of migrants taking the dangerous Aegean Sea route to Europe and to find a solution for the influx of refugees heading to the EU countries. According to the deal, Türkiye was promised a total of 6 billion euros in financial aid, which was initially designed to be given to the country in two stages and to be used by the Turkish government to finance projects for Syrian refugees. Visa freedom for Turkish citizens was also a perk of the agreement. In addition, the customs union between Türkiye and the EU was to be updated.
In exchange for these promises, Türkiye took responsibility for discouraging migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of Syrian refugees living in Türkiye. Despite significant developments controlling migration traffic, the EU has not delivered on its commitments stated in the deal.
Türkiye and Greece are key transit points for many migrants looking to cross into Europe in search of better lives.
Serim further revealed he and Baumann discussed the issue of security during the upcoming elections in Türkiye. “It’s important for Türkiye that electoral campaigns and voting processes are conducted uneventfully for Turkish nationals in Germany,” he said.
“We respect Germany’s sovereign rights and their regulation on election propaganda,” he added.
He said significantly that, German authorities maintain an indiscriminate attitude during this period.
Turks abroad will head to polls for the sixth time to cast their vote in the presidential and 28th term parliamentary elections, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently confirmed is likely to be held on May 14.
“It’s important for us that our citizens in Germany get to exercise their most basic democratic right and vote to contribute to the political sphere in Türkiye,” Serim said.
Serim and his committee met with 14 consul generals serving in Germany to discuss providing better services to citizens in the country.
“The Turkish community is pivotal for both nations. We are proud of the social, economic and political achievements Turks have achieved here,” Serim said.
He praised the Turkish diaspora for adapting to Germany while preserving their language and religion. “The new generation can maintain this success, which will only reinforce the deep-rooted relations between Türkiye and Germany,” he added.
The most critical part of bilateral ties is trade and the economy, Serim explained. “We aim to top $50 billion in trade volume and encourage mutual investments and joint initiatives.”
“While there are various issues Türkiye and Germany disagree on, we care deeply about sustaining constructive dialogue,” he concluded.