Erdogan and Merkel hold official contacts in Ankara Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Merkel met with representatives of
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Merkel met with representatives of various religious communities in Ankara on Monday. The meeting was attended by Mufti of Ankara M. Hakki Ozer, Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeow, Deputy Armenian Patriarch Aram Atesyan, Chief Rabbi Isak Haleva, Assyrian Mor Gabriel Monastery's Metropolitian Bishop Samuel Aktas, Deputy Assyrian Catholic Patriarch Yusuf Sag, and member of the Executive Board of Turkish Protestant Churches Umut Sahin. Following the meeting, Erdogan and Merkel held a joint press conference, in which Erdogan said that their tete-a-tete meeting and meeting between respective delegations were all fruitful. "We have thanked Merkel for the German patriot systems deployed in Turkey as part of NATO cooperation," Erdogan said, adding that they have requested Germany's support for our temporary membership in the UN Security Council for the term 2015-2016 and for hosting the EXPO-2020. Asked about jailed journalists in Turkey, Erdogan reiterated the Turkish government's stance that the number of arrested journalists due to their journalistic activities did not exceed "the number of fingers on one hand." Stating that the reason journalists have been arrested was not their articles, but attempts to stage a coup, keeping illegal arms or being a member of terrorist movement, Erdogan said Turkey's judiciary was independent, as it is in Germany. "Just recently six journalists have been arrested in Britain and 50 others are still in jail. Have you ever wondered the reason why they are imprisoned? And I particularly recommend you to find out whether they have connections with IRA," Erdogan said. In response to a question if Turkey would implement the Ankara protocol following the elections in the Greek Cypriot administration, Erdogan said the two issues were different. Stating that Turkey would like to contribute to a solution in Cyprus if Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades was agreeable to such a move, Erdogan said. "Of course, there is Greece's responsibility as well," Erdogan said. "Turkey wants to make an agreement with all EU member states in the framework of goodwill and is willing to boost trade with them," Erdogan noted. For her part, Merkel expressed support yesterday for reviving Turkey's flagging EU talks yet butted heads with Ankara on the deadlock surrounding Cyprus. "We need Turkey's progress on the implementation of the Ankara protocol. Otherwise, the number of negotiation chapters that can be opened will be limited," Merkel said. "The end result of Turkey's EU talks is uncertain. I have said many times that I have hesitations on Turkey's full membership. But I would like to see the process continue," Merkel underlined, noting that if we can open a new chapter, they would have taken a step further. Touching on the terrorist PKK, Merkel said that they knew members of PKK worked under different organizations in order to support the PKK. "We are very sensitive on the issue of PKK and closely watch the activities of suspicious people," Merkel added.