German Chancellor Angela Merkel held tense talks with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during her first visit to Turkey since July’s failed coup.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the splits between the two countries are still wide.
Merkel’s visit came as Turkey prepares for an expected April referendum on constitutional changes that opponents fear will grant Erdogan one-man rule.
“I emphasised from my side that in this far-reaching change the separation of powers and freedom of expression must be ensured,” Merkel said after talks with Erdogan at his presidential palace in Ankara.
But Erdogan immediately countered it was false to maintain there would be any end to the separation of powers under the new system.
“The legislative is still there. So is the executive and the judiciary. Their dissolution… is out of the question,” said the Turkish president.
In a separate report, Reuters noted that Erdogan also said Turkey may provide evidence to the German authorities after around 40 mostly high-ranking Turkish soldiers who worked at Nato facilities in Germany were reported to have requested asylum.
On February 1, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said Berlin was sheltering members of what Ankara calls the “Gulenist Terrorist Organisation” (FETO), the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Turkey blames for the coup bid. Gulen denies involvement.
According to Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Erdogan told reporters that discussion centred around how the two Nato members could work together to improve the situation in Iraq and Syria, where Islamic State continues to unleash violence on a civilian population, sending destabilising ripples throughout the world.