Turkey's Erdogan, in Berlin, pledges EU visa push
Turkey aims to win easier access to the European Union for its citizens, President Tayyip Erdogan said in Berlin on Friday during a state visit that aims to repair relations with Germany after bitter disputes, Reuters reports.
Turkey would move to meet the EU’s criteria for achieving visa liberalization, he said on the second day of a visit also intended to improve ties with the European Union after the freeze that followed a failed coup in 2016.
Facing an economic crisis aggravated by U.S. sanctions, Erdogan is hoping to attract more private investment from the economic superpower on Turkey’s doorstep.
“Visa liberalization, updating the customs union and reviving accession talks will benefit both Turkey and the EU,” Erdogan said.
Germany, home to 3 million ethnic Turks and reliant on Turkey to help contain a migrant crisis beyond Europe’s borders, is also keen to rebuild ties, yet wariness surrounds the three-day state visit on all sides.
With Erdogan due to continue to Cologne, home to one of the largest Turkish communities outside Turkey, on Saturday, authorities there refused permission for a 25,000-strong spillover crowd to gather outside a giant new mosque that he is due to open.
The regional government also has to rearrange a morning meeting between North Rhine Westfalia’s premier Armin Laschet and Erdogan after the ancestral owners of the castle that was to be the venue obtained an injunction preventing his visit.
Ankara is still smarting at what it sees as Europe’s slowness to condemn the failed coup against Erdogan in 2016, while Germany and EU countries are concerned about the mass arrests that followed, Turkey’s patchy press freedom record and Erdogan’s influence over Turkish diaspora communities in Europe.