Ankara says German MPs visit to Incirlik 'out of the question'

Tensions between the two countries reached a peak when German authorities banned planned meetings of Turkish ministers with representatives of its three-million-strong Turkish community in Germany ahead of the historic Turkish referendum.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

US Air Force tanker planes at Turkey's Incirlik Airbase in this undated file photo.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has made it clear that Turkey will not open its Incirlik air base to German lawmakers who want to visit German soldiers stationed at the base unless Germany takes some “positive steps”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week warned that Germany would withdraw soldiers from the air base if their MPs were not allowed to visit.

Speaking at a news conference with his Gabonese counterpart Pacome Moubelet Boubeya on Tuesday, Cavusoglu said the visit remains "out of the question."

"It is not possible to open the Incirlik base for visit, but we might reconsider the decision in the future if we see 'positive steps' from Germany," he said.

"The base in [southern Turkish province of] Konya is a NATO base. But Incirlik is solely Turkey's base. The decision is ours there. They can't bluff us and threaten us to 'go elsewhere'," he said, adding: "If they really want to go elsewhere, we will not insist [them to stay]."

Earlier, Merkel had highlighted the importance of the visit of German MPs at the air base.

"I will make it very clear to the Turkish president during our talks that it is indispensable for our soldiers to be able to be visited by members of the German Bundestag, as ours is a parliamentary military," the German leader said on Thursday.

Cavusoglu, in response, said, "Germany need to understand this: Those times are over [when it could say]: 'I do whatever want in Turkey and get whatever I want from Turkey’.

"You cannot take a hostile approach with Turkey," the foreign minister added.

Source: 
AA