Merkel calls for closer cooperation between the European Union and Turkey

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“Turkey has shown its willingness to reduce tensions with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, and this is good news,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday.

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Sputnik news agency quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying:

“Turkey has sent a sign of the easing of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean in recent months, after threatening acts in the waters of Cyprus and Greece.”

Tensions between Turkey and the Greek Cypriot government escalated last year after Ankara sent drilling ships to explore for oil and gas in Greece’s eastern waters.

Merkel said Turkey has also resumed UN-brokered talks on the unification of Cyprus and reopened cooperation with Europe.

European Union leaders promised in early March that they would work closely with Turkey if it showed its willingness to negotiate.

The German chancellor added, “The Council of Europe will now discuss how we can proceed. I must say that this dialogue will not be easy, but I hope we will reach a conclusion.”

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Merkel stressed that Germany is looking into Turkey’s domestic policies and its commitment to the rule of law and human rights.

The German Chancellor also called for closer cooperation between the European Union and Turkey, stressing Ankara’s strategic importance for regional stability and its main role in addressing the migrant crisis.

“Turkey is not just a partner and an ally,” she said. “Turkey is our close neighbor. Turkey has strategic importance for us.”