Seven German lawmakers visited troops at Konya air base on Friday in a NATO-brokered deal with Ankara. The visit had initially been scheduled for July.

A North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft approaches to land at an air base on September 8, 2017 in Konya, which was being visited by German lawmakers. (AFP)
A North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft approaches to land at an air base on September 8, 2017 in Konya, which was being visited by German lawmakers. (AFP)

German lawmakers on Friday visited soldiers stationed in the central Turkish province of Konya as relations remain tense between the NATO allies.

Some 20-30 German troops have remained at Konya under an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACs) mission, part of the US-led coalition's campaign against Daesh in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

The delegation had initially been due to come to Turkey in July for the routine visit, but the trip was blocked by Ankara.

Turkey objected to comments by some of the proposed visiting lawmakers that it viewed as supporting the PKK.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg then intervened and the visit was organised by the alliance, rather than Germany.

"We were received by high-ranking officials and the Turkish side was visibly eager to reduce tensions," Social Democrat (SPD) MP Rainer Arnold told AFP news agency before boarding the plane to return to Berlin.

"The visit was a step in the right direction," he added.

The deputy secretary-general of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller, led the delegation which included seven German MPs from different parties, according to the Bundestag.

"We expressly welcome the fact that this visit could take place," German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said earlier on Friday.

"A visit is a visit. It is already good ... We will see how things continue," he said, adding that these types of visits organised within the NATO framework could not constitute "a lasting and sustainable political solution."

The row over MPs' access to German troops on Turkish soil boiled over in June when Berlin pulled out 260 troops from the Incirlik base in southern Turkey and relocated them to Jordan, after Ankara repeatedly thwarted lawmakers' efforts to visit.

Relations between Berlin and Ankara have deteriorated since last year's failed coup aimed at overthrowing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ties worsened this week after German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her intention to seek an end to European Union membership talks with Turkey. The move has angered Ankara, which has accused German politicians of pandering to  "populism." 

Germany has condemned the arrest of around 50,000 people, including German citizens, under the state of emergency imposed in Turkey following the attempted putsch.

Ankara in response has repeatedly accused Berlin of supporting "terrorists," referring to PKK and FETO members.

Turkey, EU and the US consider to be the PKK to be a terrorist organisation which has conducted a decades-long armed campaign against Turkish state. FETO, meanwhile, is considered to be a terrorist organisation by Turkey and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states, and is accused of orchestrating the failed coup in July last year.

Source: AA