German President Gauck praises Turkey′s efforts to help Syria′s refugees | News | DW | 27.04.2014
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German President Gauck praises Turkey's efforts to help Syria's refugees

German President Joachim Gauck has praised the efforts of Turkey in helping refugees from Syria's civil war. Gauck started his trip to the country by visiting a refugee camp.

Gauck's first stop on his visit to Turkey on Sunday was to travel to the refugee camp on the outskirts of the southern city of Kahramanmaras where about 16,000 Syrian refugees are living.

On a tour through the camp, Gauck said he had "great respect" for Turkey's assistance to the refugees. He said Germany could do more to help, adding that his country had already acted, "but we can't just sit here and do nothing."

Children from the refugee camp greeted him with dance and acted out scenes from their everyday lives. The German president spent time talking with the children about their plight. He also spoke with representatives from aid organizations.

Altogether, Turkey has taken in an estimated one million refugees from its troubled southern neighbor, which has been caught up in a civil war for the past three years.

Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt later met German soldiers who were stationed nearby. About 300 soldiers from the German army have been working in Turkey since the beginning of 2013, with the mission to secure the airspace on the border with Syria.

Focus on rights

The German president's visit comes as Turkey continues to deal with controversies such as the short-lived ban on Twitter by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as far-reaching corruption allegations.

Gauck reportedly intends to talk about the close relationship between Germany and Turkey but also to bring up concerns about shortcomings in Turkey's democracy and rule of law, as well as press freedom and freedom of expression.

Gauck arrived in Turkey on Saturday. On Monday he is due to meet Erdogan as well as Turkish President Abdullah Gül. On Tuesday he will assist in officially opening a Turkish-German university and also meet representatives from Turkish civil society.

se/kms (dpa, AFP)

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