Turkey blocks German lawmaker visit to soldiers at air base

Elias Hubbard
May 19, 2017

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Cavusoglu said Ankara was not attempting to blackmail Berlin by preventing German lawmakers access to Incirlik, where some 250 German troops are stationed as part of the coalition against Islamic State.

The 250 Bundeswehr troops have been stationed at the Incirlik base as a part of a US led coalition to fight ISIS. "I believe that the Americans will also use the opportunities they have to talk to the Turkish side to say that we must have a different relationship with each other than the current one", Gabriel said.

Turkey subsequently refused German members of parliament access to German staff at a military facility on Monday.

Numerous Turkish officials - including military, diplomatic and civilian personnel - were recalled from overseas by Ankara following the foiled July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which left 249 people martyred and around 2,200 others wounded. A similar denial took place a year ago, reportedly due to the German parliament's decision to recognize the Ottoman Empire's massacre of Armenians in the early 20th century as genocide.

President Tayyip Erdogan accused Berlin of "Nazi-like" tactics. Turkey is the Ottoman Empire's successor state and disputes the designation.

Both countries have sparred over a range of issues, including civil rights in Turkey, freedom of expression, the military campaign against Turkey's Kurdish minority and a prospective Turkish referendum on reintroducing the death penalty.

Germany is also protesting the arrest of two of its citizens, journalist Deniz Yucel and translator Mesale Tolu, on charges that claim they were assisting terrorists.

Past year as well the Turkish side banned the lawmakers to visit the air base. The air base is being used in the global fightback against so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militants.

The refusal angered Germany, increasing the chances that it will move its Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane to another country.

Yildirim made the comments on Tuesday in reaction to Berlin's move to grant political asylum to military officials and supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for staging the failed coup in July 2016.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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