Turkey blocks visit to German soldiers at air base

Elias Hubbard
May 28, 2017

Berlin on Monday slammed Ankara's refusal to allow German lawmakers to visit a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation base near Syria and warned it could move its troops elsewhere.

A spokesperson for Berlin's foreign ministry said it was "completely unacceptable" for Turkey to block the MPs' planned visit to German personnel at the base.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel asked the U.S. to help defuse the spat between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Sources familiar with the matter told dpa that the decision by Turkish authorities to prohibit the delegation from visiting on Tuesday was taken in part as a response to Germany's decision to grant political asylum to Turkish soldiers, in the wake of last year's failed coup.

Relations were strained further since the arrest of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel on terror-related charges in February, and during the referendum campaign in April to boost Erdogan's powers.

The German military has long planned to invest over 60 million euros to expand housing and equipment at Incirlik, but Turkey has not yet approved the plans. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Fethullah Gülen and his followers for the attempted coup in Turkey a year ago.

German government spokesman Stefan Seibert said Berlin would consider alternative places to station the soldiers.

Turkey blocks visit to German soldiers at air base
Turkey blocks visit to German soldiers at air base

A decision by Turkey to not allow German lawmakers to visit German troops stationed at the base in southern Turkey has angered Berlin, with German leaders saying they could redeploy the troops elsewhere.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering withdrawing German troops stationed in Turkey after a diplomatic row with Ankara, potentially disrupting the global mission against Isis.

They flared up again before Turkey's presidential republic referendum on April 16, which Erdogan and his party AKP won with a very narrow majority, with the Turkish opposition disputing the results, and global observers finding numerous violations.

Turkey has been "made to crawl" at the gates of the European Union, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.

About 400 Turkish military staff, diplomats, members of the judiciary and other officials and their relatives had applied for political asylum in Germany, media reports say.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who is visiting Jordan at the weekend, told reporters after a parliamentary committee meeting that the government had been evaluating possible alternatives to Incirlik for some time.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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