ISTANBUL — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Turkey on Monday in his first official trip to the country since he took office in December.
He was holding talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, followed by a news conference. A Turkish presidency statement said the two leaders are expected to discuss the Russia-Ukraine war and Turkish-European Union relations, along with bilateral relations.
NATO-member Turkey has close relations with both Russia and Ukraine and brought the two countries’ foreign ministers together last week for talks. Although those talks did not yield results, diplomatic efforts were continuing.
Germany and Turkey have significant trade relations, with bilateral trade 2021 rising above $41 billion in 2021. Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, closely linking the two countries. But relations have been tested by Turkey’s human rights record, including the jailing of German journalists and an activist, as well as Erdogan lashing out against European leaders.
Germany considers Turkey an important partner in efforts to handle Europe’s migration influx, with thousands of people trying to reach Europe from Turkey. The German government is also aware that Turkey has an important strategic position as a fellow NATO member.
In her 16 years in office, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a delicate balance between cooperation and criticism, meeting with Erdogan numerous times. Her last visit was in October before she left office.