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Germany ready to support Turkey's EU accession process, says Merkel

During a visit aimed at securing Ankara's help in stemming a migrant influx to Europe, Chancellor Merkel has said Germany will support Turkey's EU membership bid. Turkish PM Davutoglu hailed Europe's "better approach."

Germany is ready to accelerate Turkey's EU accession process, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday at a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Merkel spoke of organizing the accession process "more dynamically."

"Germany is ready this year to open Chapter 17, and make preparations for (Chapters) 23 and 24. We can talk about the details," she said.

Merkel's statement came as she visited Turkish leaders on Sunday in a bid to secure Ankara's support in stemming the current migrant influx into the EU.

'Better approach'

Davutoglu hailed the EU's latest moves to foster collaboration between Brussels and Ankara as a "better approach."

"Unfortunately Turkey was left alone by the international community in terms of burden sharing. We are very pleased there is a better approach now. The issue of sharing going forward is very important," Davutoglu said.

The Turkish premier also praised Merkel for "not turning a blind eye" to the crisis.

However, Davutoglu noted that "significant new waves of migration" were likely to occur if a political solution to the Syrian conflict does not emerge.

Turkey has taken in more than two million Syrian refugees since a civil war erupted there in 2011, according to UN figures.

Thousands of refugees have crossed the Aegean Sea to enter EU member state Greece from Turkey

Thousands of refugees have crossed the Aegean Sea to enter EU member state Greece from Turkey

Whole package?

According to officials, the EU offered Ankara an aid package of at least 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) along with an easing of EU visa restrictions for Turkish citizens, which Merkel and Davutoglu discussed.

The German chancellor later met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he asked Merkel to support Turkey's EU membership bid. Erdogan added that he also asked France, Britain and Spain for support.

The EU is struggling to cope with the current influx of asylum seekers, with more than half a million migrants having crossed into the 28-nation bloc in 2015, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported in September.

ls/tj (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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