German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended dialogue with Turkey despite current differences, stressing Ankara’s strategic importance for the Western world.
“Turkey has great ambitions and it’s true that we have witnessed many disappointments in our relations. But still, we must find pragmatic agreements, even when our attitudes diverge on major questions,” Merkel told a panel in Israel, Berlin-based Judische Allgemeine newspaper reported.
During a question and answer session at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Merkel underlined that Turkey and its Western partners “must keep talking to each other” despite their political differences.
“You cannot ignore Turkey. It is a member of NATO, and it also plays a central role for the European Union in the fight against illegal migration,” she stressed.
The German chancellor also said one cannot choose his or her interlocutors in international politics when dealing with major regional and global problems.
“Foreign policy is a mixture of values and interests. Finding the right balance here is the big issue,” she said.
Merkel is scheduled to visit Turkey on Saturday for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
After 16 years in power, Merkel is preparing to leave active politics later this year, but she will remain in her post until a new coalition government is formed.
Her Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) narrowly lost the general elections late last month.