WARSAW — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan sought on Saturday to clear the air in their first private talks since the German parliament infuriated Ankara by adopting a resolution recognizing 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey a genocide.
Official sources said the meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw lasted longer than the scheduled 45 minutes, but they did not overcome their differences.
Ties between Turkey and Germany have been strained since the Bundestag passed the Armenian Genocide resolution on June 2. Ankara recalled its ambassador and threatened unspecified retaliation.
In apparent retaliation, German parliamentarians have been denied access to the Incirlik airbase in southeastern Turkey where some 250 German troops are participating in NATO operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq, prompting protests from the Berlin government.
A source close to the Turkish presidency said Erdogan expressed his disappointment at the resolution to Merkel, who said she would do her utmost to ensure this event would not harm German-Turkish relations.
The source said Merkel also expressed satisfaction with the way Turkey was keeping its word in preventing refugees and migrants crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece after more than one million flooded into Europe last year, most ending up in Germany.
“We discussed all outstanding issues,” Merkel told reporters at a brief news conference. “The atmosphere was constructive … and very businesslike in an effort to solve the existing conflicts.”
Asked whether the issues had been resolved, she said: “The differences don’t just disappear through such a discussion. But I believe it was important that we talked them through.”
The Turkish source said Merkel had raised the issue of the Incirlik airbase and had asked Erdogan to restore access for lawmakers, who approve all military spending and investment in infrastructure at the base.
Erdogan replied that the airbase was not a place for “public shows and marketing” but Turkey would consider the request in the light of German statements on relations, the source said.
The two leaders also discussed intelligence cooperation in the fight against foreign fighters recruited by Islamic State in Syria, some of whom have returned to carry out attacks in Europe.