Mrs. Süssmuth is a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). She was the Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth under Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1985-1988), and President of the German Parliament, the Bundestag (1988-1998).
She holds the title of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Münster. Currently she sits on the Advisory Board for the German Foundation for World Population and serves as a Member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation which monitors tolerance in Europe.
Regarding the question of how Europeans should approach Turkey she said:
- Turkey is an important part of our civilization. It was important to try to understand the motivations of our Turkish counterparts. She hopes to improve this exchange by her support for a German-Turkish university in Istanbul.
- Turkey is a bridge between cultures, between Western countries and Muslim cultures, with all their weaknesses and their strengths.
- Turkey is on of the countries with the highest number of refugees. Europe has a responsibility to help them to manage this problem. The basis for this, as for all major problems, is mutual respect, which makes it possible to enter into dialogue.
- The refugee crisis also presents an opportunity to restart EU-Turkish relations. But the relationship should go beyond just the refugee crisis.
- She is hopeful that Turkey will find solutions for its internal problems, especially regarding the treatment of minorities.
- Despite all the disasters unfolding in the region, this could be a “period of new hope” in EU-Turkish relations.