Merkel resists coalition partner's request to withdraw from Incirlik

Social Democrats want Germany to pull its forces from the Incirlik airbase, but the German chancellor wants to await the outcome of talks with Turkey over its decision to deny German parliamentarians access to the base.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel underlined that German lawmakers should have access to their soldiers stationed abroad, as it was the parliament’s task to control the armed forces but warned against any rushed decisions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned down on Tuesday a request by her coalition partner Social Democrats to withdraw German soldiers from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base amid political tensions between the two countries.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Merkel said her Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) wanted to see the outcome of talks between German and Turkish foreign ministers before taking a decision on Incirlik.

"At the NATO summit, we agreed to continue talks with Turkey,” she said, referring to a meeting she had with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the summit in Brussels last week.

Waiting for the talks

“This is why the CDU/CSU parliamentary group is of the opinion that we ought to wait for the outcome of talks between the foreign ministers,” she said.

Turkey has been reluctant to give permission to German lawmakers to visit their soldiers stationed in Incirlik, due to controversial statements, mostly made by lawmakers from the socialist Die Linke (The Left)  party which publicly announced their support to the PKK. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, Germany and other NATO countries.

Merkel underlined that German lawmakers should have access to their soldiers stationed abroad as it was the parliament’s responsibility to control the armed forces, according to the constitution. But she warned against any rushed decisions.

"Of course, we need to take a decision in the upcoming weeks on how things will evolve. But now we ought to talk once again with the Turkish side,” she said.

Ahead of parliamentary elections in September, Merkel’s coalition partner Social Democratic Party (SPD) took a surprise decision and demanded the withdrawal of German troops from Incirlik, in protest against Turkey’s stance.

“We are calling for troop withdrawal from Incirlik,” Thomas Oppermann, a senior SPD lawmaker told the Passauer Neue Presse daily.

“Now the defence minister should promptly provide clarification for the prospective stationing site,” he said.