Merkel says Turkey plays central role in combating illegal migration
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Turkey plays a central role for the European Union (EU) in the fight against illegal migration to Europe, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Oct. 12.
Jüdische Allgemeine newspaper reported remarks by Merkel on Turkey while she visited the Institute for National Security Studies in Jerusalem.
On a question about Turkey, Merkel said, "You cannot ignore Turkey. NATO member Turkey plays a central role for the EU in the fight against illegal migration to Europe. Turkey has big goals, and there are many disappointments in relations. On key issues."
"Even if attitudes are different, you still need to find pragmatic agreements. We have to keep talking to each other," Merkel stated.
She also said that foreign policy was a mix of values and interests. "It's a big deal to find the right balance here," she added.
Turkey hosts nearly 5 million refugees, more than any country in the world.
After the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, Turkey adopted an "open-door policy" for people fleeing the conflict, granting them "temporary protection" status.
Afghans are believed to be the second-largest refugee community in Turkey after Syrians, while authorities say there are 182,000 registered Afghan migrants in the country and up to an estimated 120,000 unregistered ones.
Many of the migrants arriving via Iran are heading for Istanbul to find work or passage to another coastal city from which to embark for Europe.
The authorities recently said that Turkey would not bear the burden of migration crises experienced as a result of the decisions of third countries.