By Ayhan Simsek
Turkey and Germany on Friday pledged to forge closer economic and strategic ties following a high-level meeting of their finance, economy and energy ministers in Berlin.
Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said the two countries shared the same positions on many global political and economic issues, and their differences on a number of issues were not an obstacle for a closer relationship.
“We have entered a new period in our bilateral relations. We want to further enhance our ties by adopting a sincere and constructive approach, by taking strategic steps” he said.
“I firmly believe that in the coming days, Turkey and Germany will take stronger steps towards strategic cooperation,” he stressed.
Albayrak made the remarks at a joint news conference with German Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier following their meeting in Berlin.
Turkey’s Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Sonmez also attended the meeting.
Albayrak said during the meeting that they also reviewed preparations for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to Berlin next week.
“I believe that following this important visit of our president to Germany, we will achieve very positive results -- not only in terms of Turkey-Germany relations, but also in terms of Turkey-European Union relations,” he said.
Erdogan is scheduled to pay a key visit to Berlin on Sept. 28-29, which would be his first official visit to Germany since 2014.
-Support for Turkey’s economy
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz renewed his country’s support for Turkey’s economic stability amid market worries over exchange rate fluctuations.
“It is in our common interest to see Turkey’s stable economic development, to see that Turkey can address recent challenges in its economy,” he said at the press conference.
Asked if Germany was considering providing financial assistance to Turkey, Scholz underlined that so far, the Turkish side has not asked for such assistance.
He said their talks have focused on further developing cooperation between the two countries in the fields of economy, trade and energy.
On Turkey’s expectations for an updated EU-Turkey Customs Union, Scholz said they can work for progress in this area through a step-by-step approach.
'Common geostrategic interests'
For his part, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, underlined that Turkey has been a very important economic and trade partner.
“We have very close economic cooperation. More than 7,500 German companies are active in Turkey,” he said.
Altmaier said they agreed Friday to take steps to further enhance economic relations between the two countries and continue cooperation in addressing the refugee crisis.
“We are sharing common geostrategic interests,” he said, referring to the civil war in Syria and its negative impacts on the region.
“We would like to stabilize the region, which is very often characterized by civil wars and refugees,” he added.
Altmaier expressed hope that Erdogan’s meeting with Merkel next week would open “a new page” in bilateral relations.
Relations between Ankara and Berlin suffered several setbacks in past years, but both sides have taken steps in recent months towards improving ties.
EU heavyweight Germany remains Turkey’s main economic and trade partner. In 2017, the bilateral trade volume reached €37.6 billion ($43.6 billion).
Germany is also significant for Turkey as more than 3 million people of Turkish origin reside in the country. Many of them are second- and third-generation German-born citizens whose Turkish grandparents moved to the country during the 1960s.