ANKARA, Turkey — German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Turkey on Sunday for a two-day visit as Turkish officials grow increasingly frustrated about the slow progress in the country’s bid for European Union membership.
Before arriving, Merkel said she backs opening a new chapter in those stalled talks, despite being skeptical about Turkey’s accession. There have been signals recently from Merkel’s party about possible movement in Germany’s resistance to Turkey’s eventual membership.
Merkel will hold talks with Turkish leaders Monday. She is accompanied on the trip by a delegation of businessmen.
On Sunday, Merkel visited German troops deployed to operate Patriot missile batteries in Turkey. The Patriots were sent to the NATO member country to protect it from spillover from Syria’s civil war.
The chancellor’s first stop was Kahramanmaras, about 60 miles from the Syrian border, where about 300 German troops are operating two out of six antimissile batteries.
German President Joachim Gauck said Friday that the country has no desire to dominate the rest of the continent of 500 million.
Gauck, whose role is largely ceremonial, used a speech in Berlin to acknowledge that Germany has created fear since its 1990 reunification to become Europe’s biggest economy and during the debt crisis in the 17-nation eurozone.
It was Gauck’s first major foray into the political sphere since his election by a special assembly in last March. His choice of European relations as the theme of his talk underscores the difficulties experienced by German officials, including Merkel, on Germany’s role as Europe’s chief decision-maker and principal contributor to eurozone rescues.