angela merkel.jpg
Photograph: EPA/KAY NIETFELD

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized a move by the Turkish parliament to remove immunity from prosecution from around a quarter of lawmakers in an article published in Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The move had "hard consequences" for Kurdish politicians and filled her "with great concern," Merkel was quoted as saying ahead of a trip to Istanbul for an international humanitarian summit organized by the United Nations.

Merkel criticized the fact that the reconciliation process with the Kurds had been "broken off" in 2015. "We want the Kurdish population to have its equal position and a good future in Turkey," she said.

She also stressed that she viewed the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as a terrorist organization. Violence between the PKK and the state flared up again last year after a two-year ceasefire broke down, following a stalled peace process, leading to many hundreds of deaths.

Merkel said that during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan planned for Monday, she would discuss "all important issues."

She rejected criticism that she had been too soft on Turkey following a deal with Ankara to limit migrant numbers entering the EU.

"There are of course mutual dependencies; you can also call it simply the need to balance our interests," Merkel said, adding that this did not mean one had to accept fully the policies of a country.

Referring to EU plans to waive visas for Turks entering the EU, Merkel said the agreed conditions had to be met first: "It concerns the standards in Turkey and requires changes to be made there."

One of the EU's concerns is Turkey's anti-terrorism law, which Erdogan only recently refused to alter.

"I am concentrating on observing exactly how Turkey handles its promises. Until now, [Turkey] has been implementing them reliably, and I will of course speak to the president about the state of affairs."

Merkel met late Sunday with representatives of civil society in Istanbul to discuss the political and societal situation in Turkey. Discussions included the Kurds, developments in the legal system, cooperation in EU and Turkish refugee policy and EU acession talks, German officials said. Journalists, economists, lawyers and human rights advocates took part in the talks, which did not include opposition politics or prominent Erdogan critics.

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