Diplomatic relations between NATO members Germany and Turkey hit rock bottom on Monday when Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said his country has no choice but to begin the process of pulling its forces out of Turkey’s Incirlik air force base as the Turkish government will not allow all German lawmakers to visit troops there.
The scandal erupted last Thursday, when Turkey’s foreign minister said it is not possible to allow German lawmakers to visit troops stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base now, although he said Ankara may reconsider if it sees “positive steps” from Berlin. It was not immediately clear just what Turkey’s “demands” or expectations, monetary or otherwise, were from Merkel for it to change its view. Ties between the NATO allies deteriorated sharply in the run-up to Turkey’s April 16 referendum that handed President Tayyip Erdogan stronger presidential powers.
“We see that Germany supports everything that is against Turkey,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara last week. “Under these circumstances it is not possible for us to open Incirlik to German lawmakers right now … If they take positive steps in the future we can reconsider.”
The recent deterioration in relations between Germany and Turkey developed when Germany, citing security concerns, banned some Turkish politicians from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks ahead of the referendum, infuriating Erdogan. Ankara responded by accusing Berlin of “Nazi-like” tactics. Germany also expressed concern about the widespread security crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup in Turkey as a result of which more than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and more than 40,000 people jailed.
In comments via live translation to Turkish, Gabriel said German military can’t constitutionally remain at a base abroad if lawmakers cannot visit them and said that since its operations are approved by parliament, German lawmakers must be able to visit the Bundeswehr, Gabriel added.
“Turkey must understand that in this situation, we must transfer German soldiers out of Incirlik,” he said. “In this situation, the Bundestag (parliament) will ask the government to find another location for the German soldiers in Incirlik.”
In the last week of May, Angela Merkel gave her strongest signal yet that she’ll pull German troops out of Turkey unless President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lets lawmakers in Berlin visit them, further cracking a show of unity at a NATO summit. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting where U.S. President Donald Trump hectored European allies to pay more for defense, Merkel confronted Erdogan about access to the soldiers at the NATO base in Incirlik where Germany stations reconnaissance jets that fly missions over Iraq and Syria.
Earlier this month, Merkel called Turkey’s stance on visits to Incirlik “deplorable” and said Germany may move the warplanes based there to a location outside Turkey, possibly Jordan.
Full article: NATO Splinters: Germany Says “Has No Choice But To Pull Out” Troops From Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase (ZeroHedge)