German chancellor Merkel lauds govt reform package


Accompanied by a large business delegation and Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration Maria Boehmer, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Ankara yesterday for a two-day official visit at the invitation of her Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Before starting her talks with top Turkish officials, Merkel first visited Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Merkel and her delegation laid a wreath on Ataturk's tomb. Following a minute of silence, Merkel wrote in Anitkabir's memorial guestbook, "With all the respect due to the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Germany will continue to accompany Turkey on its path to the future." During her visit, Chief Negotiator for European Union Talks Egemen Bagis accompanied Merkel and her delegation. Later Merkel had a closed-door meeting with Bagis at the German Embassy. Merkel reportedly praised the government's recently announced constitutional amendment package, calling it an encouraging step. Stating that reform efforts to make Turkey a more modern, democratic and civilian country deserve support, Merkel also shared their experience with such constitutional changes. For his part, Bagis reportedly reiterated Turkey's rejection of "privileged partnership" proposals in lieu of its EU accession bid, as there are no grounds for such a proposal in EU-related agreements. In response, Merkel complained about what she called some misconceptions in Turkey, saying that she was aware of Turkey's views on this.