Further weakened at home by the ongoing refugee crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to score some points abroad by traveling to Ankara for yet another meeting with Turkey’s leadership.
Merkel held separate meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, seeking to convince Turkey to fulfill the commitments the country made back in November when a €3 billion deal was struck.
Turkey was to get cash, accelerated European Union membership talks and visa-free travel for its citizens who entered Europe. And for its end of the bargain, Turkey was supposed to clamp down on the exodus of refugees from its country and into Greece.
Instead of leaving Ankara with a commitment from Turkey, she left with no commitment the Turks and even calls for more money, which she herself, acknowledged when she spoke to the press after her meetings.
Asked whether Europe would have to give the Turks even more cash to convince Turkey to do more to manage the crisis, Merkel suggested the EU would likely have little choice.
“First I’d say we should spend this money and once it’s gone, we can talk again,” she said, according to a Politico story.
Desperate to find a solution to the crisis that has weakened her power at home, the talks on Monday were Merkel’s sixth official meeting with the Turkish leadership since October, prompting German media to quip that she sees Davutoglu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan more frequently than some of her own ministers.
Merkel’s political rivals in Germany criticized the trip as a waste of time.
“Repeated trips to Ankara are no substitute for a refugee policy developed by the government itself and that’s still missing,” Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of the Free Democrats, the deputy president of the European Parliament, said in a radio interview.
Others accused Merkel of pandering to Turkey, while looking the other way as Ankara cracked down on its Kurdish minority.
“We should be careful that Germany does not fall victim to blackmail by a regime that doesn’t have the smallest thing in common with our moral concepts, a regime, which shares the responsibility for this whole disaster,” Left party leader Sahra Wagenknecht said in a newspaper interview.