Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Turkey again. It is her fifth visit in eight months to a country that is the linchpin of her refugee policy.
Yet support at home is eroding as popular opposition mounts to the European Union’s refugee deal with Turkey and to Ms. Merkel’s approach to the crisis.
Nearly 60 percent of all Germans oppose the refugee deal, according to a survey conducted by the polling firm Forsa on behalf of Handelsblatt. Only 31 percent of those surveyed support the agreement.
Ms. Merkel is to discuss the deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the U.N. World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Monday.
The chancellor has staked her political future on the successful implementation of the deal.
“I am convinced that it’s in German, European and Turkish interests, and especially in the interests of those who are fleeing war and persecution,” Ms. Merkel said of the deal in an interview published Sunday with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. She said she understood the criticism, but added: “what irritates me is that it sometimes looks almost as if people are looking forward to it failing.”
Earlier this month, a government spokesman said there’s no “Plan B” and denied reports that E.U. members were considering alternatives should the deal with Turkey collapse.
According to the same Forsa poll, only 44 percent of Germans would support Ms. Merkel remaining chancellor after the 2017 federal elections.
Under the refugee deal, the European Union agreed to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel if Ankara brings its standards into line with Brussels in 72 areas, including the rule of law and basic rights.
The deal has become increasingly controversial in Germany as Mr. Erdoğan has moved to centralize his political power, has targeted his domestic political opponents and has refused to meet E.U. demands.
On Friday, the Turkish parliament voted to rescind the immunity of 138 parliamentarians, including 50 of the 59 members of the Kurdish HDP party.