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News Analysis: German chancellor's visit to Turkey aims to boost economic ties

English.news.cn   2013-02-22 18:59:27            

ANKARA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel's upcoming visit to Turkey aims to boost the economic ties with Turkey, despite some unresolved political issues between the two NATO allies, analysts said recently.

During her two-day visit set to start Sunday, both Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will deliver speeches at a high-profile meeting with Turkish major companies' CEOs. Merkel is also expected to hold a political consultation with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Erdogan.

"Germany is the strongest economy in Europe and Turkey's number one trading partner, and Turkey is a fast-rising economic power. Merkel realizes that she needs to enhance cooperation with Turkey to keep German manufacturers and exporters selling products to a vast consumer market in Turkey and Turkey's immediate and extended neighborhood," Mesut Cevikalp, a political analyst in the Turkish capital of Ankara, told Xinhua.

"Germany will try to smooth out political problems in order to reduce friction between Berlin and Ankara with the hope that business deals will not get derailed by differences over political issues," he said.

Trade volume between the two countries stood at 34.5 billion U. S. dollars in 2012, favoring Germany with two to one. Over 5,000 German companies have invested in Turkey with a strong presence in car-manufacturing industry.

As business will pick up speed, Germany needs to address some of the long-standing political problems between the two countries, such as lack of anti-terror cooperation and little enthusiastic support from Germany to Turkey's European Union (EU) bid, some analysts believe.

"Both Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) groups have been raising funds in Germany, home to some three million Turks. This is a big problem between the two countries, thwarting further economic cooperation from going forward," Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, a professor of international relations at Ankara-based Gazi University, told Xinhua.

"There are some indications that Merkel's government wants to crack down on these terror groups to heed Ankara's concerns," Erol added.

Both PKK and DHKP/C are listed as terrorist organizations by Turkey, the United States and the EU.

Merkel on Sunday will go to Turkey's southern province of Kahramanmaras near the border with Syria, where Patriot missile systems sent by Germany were installed.

Germany believes the military support to Turkey will help relieve some of the tensions between the two countries while fulfilling NATO obligations to protect a member ally. Its Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere recently said "The deployment of the Patriots will mitigate the negative influence of the ongoing crisis in the country (Syria)."

Cevikalp believed Germany wants to tap into this military cooperation to boost ties with Turkey, saying "This has created a perfect opportunity for Germany to make some good public relations campaign in Turkey."

The ties between Turkey and Germany were shaken in 2011 when a terrorist neo-Nazi ring was discovered to be behind the killings of eight Turkish citizens and one Greek citizen between 2000 and 2007. The case was a scandal in Germany, as the investigation revealed links between Germany's federal intelligence service and the neo-Nazi gang, leading to some resignations of top German officials.

Turkey is also critical of Germany's stand on Turkey's accession talks with the EU. Merkel ruffled feathers in Ankara when she raised the concept of "privileged partnership with EU" instead of full membership for Turkey in early years in her office as prime minister.

However, in recent years, Merkel has given indications that she wants to bring Turkey closer to the EU, especially after the French elections resulted in the loss of anti-Turkey candidate Nicolas Sarkozy last year.

"Merkel seems to have locked in a competition with (new French President Francois) Hollande now to gain Turkey's trust and friendship," Erol stated.

Editor: Wang Yuanyuan
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