Germany to pull out from Incirlik air base as Turkey refuses access

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says a German parliamentary delegation could visit a NATO base in Konya, not Incirlik.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, June 5, 2017.

Germany has no choice but to begin the process of pulling its forces out of Incirlik air force base in Turkey, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday after his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the Turkish government will not allow German lawmakers to visit troops there.

Turkey has prevented German lawmakers from visiting the roughly 250 troops stationed at Incirlik as part of the US-led coalition against Daesh, saying that Berlin needs to improve its attitude first.

Turkey will maintain a ban on visits by German politicians to the key air base in its south which is used for raids against Daesh in Syria, Cavusoglu said on Monday at a joint press conference after a meeting with Gabriel in Ankara.

"At the moment a visit to the NATO base in Konya is possible, rather than Incirlik," Cavusoglu said.

The sticky asylum problem

It has also called on Berlin to extradite people who are seeking asylum in Germany and have suspected links to last July's attempted coup in Turkey.

"Those who seek asylum to escape Turkey and have been mixed up in the coup should be extradited," Cavusoglu told the news conference.

Commenting on the case of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, Cavusoglu said there was a trend in Europe for intelligence agencies to use journalists as agents.

He said Yucel's case was a matter for the courts.

"Our independent judiciary is carrying out the process. The judiciary will make the decision on Yucel," Cavusoglu said.

Yucel was arrested in February on a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Pulling forces 

"Turkey has made clear that, for domestic political reasons, it cannot approve visits of all lawmakers," Gabriel said.

"I regret that. Conversely, I ask for understanding that we – for domestic political reasons – must transfer soldiers out of Incirlik, because the German parliament has a parliamentary army and places value on German lawmakers being able to visit Bundeswehr soldiers at any time."

"In this situation, the Bundestag (parliament) will ask the government to find another location for the German soldiers in Incirlik." 

Shortly after he spoke, sources in Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's office said the Turkish premier had cancelled a planned meeting with Gabriel, citing a busy work schedule.

Incirlik has been at the centre of a spat between the NATO allies ever since Ankara blocked German parliamentarians' access to the base in 2016.

Turkey was infuriated when Germany, citing security concerns, banned some Turkish politicians from addressing expatriate Turks at rallies before the April 16 referendum.

Turkey's president at that point responded by accusing Berlin of "Nazi-like" tactics.

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah reports.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies