German President Steinmeier to meet Erdogan, opposition in Turkey

Berlin, April 22 (IANS/DPA) German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier starts his three-day official visit to Turkey on Monday, where he plans to meet opposition leader and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, before he meets President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday in Ankara.

Imamoglu, who has just been confirmed in office, is seen as the hope of the opposition and a possible future presidential candidate. Steinmeier is set to meet him shortly after arriving in Istanbul on Monday.

During his visit, Steinmeier plans to honour the achievements of the many Turks who have come to Germany since the 1960s as so-called guest workers. They have made a significant contribution to the economic reconstruction and success of the country.

In 1961, the governments in Bonn – the West German capital at the time – and Ankara signed a labour recruitment agreement. According to the Foreign Ministry, around 876,000 people came to Germany from Turkey on the basis of that agreement.

Today, almost 3 million people with a Turkish background live in Germany. “These stories are part of our country’s identity,” Steinmeier said ahead of his visit.

The German president’s three-day visit is scheduled to start at the historic Sirkeci railway station in Istanbul, where he plans to give a speech. Many Turks set off from there in the direction of Germany.

Steinmeier also wants to visit the region affected by the earthquake in February 2023, in which more than 53,000 people died, according to Turkish figures. Several thousand people also died in neighbouring Syria.

At the time, the German government pledged €238 million ($254 million) in earthquake aid to Turkey and Syria.

–IANS/DPA

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