UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS OF ERDOGAN, GERMAN CHANCELLOR
By Gozde Bayar and Burak Bir
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's president expressed hope on Friday that the Turkish-German University in Istanbul would be a symbol of friendship between the two countries.
"We will continue to give all kinds of support to the Turkish-German University," Erdogan stressed at the official opening ceremony for the university's new campus in Istanbul with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Stressing that Turkey has become a hub for international students, Erdogan said the number of foreign students has increased to 172,000.
He also said he expected that the country would become a center of attraction for foreign academics as well.
Erdogan added that efforts were ongoing to establish a Turkish-Japanese university of science and technology, as well as a Turkish-Italian university.
Stressing that humanity faced many problems including terror, Islamophobia, cultural racism and xenophobia, he emphasized that no one should ignore these, particularly in such a period when communication and transportation have become so widespread.
During the opening ceremony ahead of bilateral talks between the two leaders, Erdogan said they would discuss regional dynamics, regional issues, especially Libya, and two-way relations.
"Not only countries like us neighboring these conflicts in Syria for the last nine years have been affected -- Europe has also been affected," he said.
- Situation in Libya
Erdogan said a recent 55-article peace plan was an important step towards restoring political stability in Libya, adding that the plan's success depended its implementation in the field.
"It is important to put pressure on putschist Haftar and his supporters, especially in this regard. Increasing attacks on civilian residential areas in Tripoli since yesterday and the targeting of Mitiga Airport showed who was on the side of peace and who was on the side of continued blood and tears," he said.
He said the chaos in Libya would affect the entire Mediterranean region if peace would not be ensured as soon as possible.
On Jan. 12, parties in Libya announced a cease-fire in response to a joint call by the leaders of Turkey and Russia. But talks for a permanent cease-fire ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.
On Sunday, Haftar accepted terms in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire.
Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the other in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.
Haftar’s military offensive against Libya's internationally-recognized government has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people since April last year.
- 'Exceptional example of cooperation'
For her part, Angela Merkel also praised efforts towards the Turkish-German University.
"The Turkish-German University is an exceptional example of cooperation, a symbol of the partnership between two countries," said Merkel.
A total of 5,000 students will be expected to receive education from the Turkish-German University with the opening of the new campus, she added.
Ankara and Berlin signed an agreement in 2008 to establish the university.
She also emphasized that science and education have played an important role in promoting the creativity and freedom of people.
Stressing the importance of the civil society dialogue on politics and relations between governments, she said Turkey and Germany have deep-rooted relations dated back to history.