Germany’s decision to consider granting asylum to former Turkish military personnel accused of taking part in last year’s failed coup has further heightened tension between the two NATO allies, Turkey's prime minister said on Tuesday.
Speaking during a meeting of lawmakers from the governing Justice and Development (AK) Party in Ankara, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Berlin had to decide if it wanted to "improve relations with Turkey and to strengthen its friendly ties coming from the past.”
"If Germany wants to improve ties with Turkey, then it has to turn toward the Turkish Republic and not separatists and members of FETO," Yildirim said during the meeting.
FETO (Fethullah Terrorist Organisation) is the acronym Ankara uses to describe a network associated with Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of masterminding the failed putsch, when disaffected members of the military and police attempted to overthrow the presidency and government on July 15, 2016, in a night of violence that left 249 people dead and over 2,000 others wounded.
Recall of personnel followed failed coup
Numerous Turkish officials – including military, diplomatic and civilian personnel – were recalled from abroad by Ankara following the coup attempt.
German officials said last week that 414 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports and other government work permits had since requested asylum in Germany.
Germany's interior ministry has confirmed it has granted asylum to a number of Turkish applicants with diplomatic passports, but declined to comment on media reports that soldiers were among those allowed to stay in Germany.
Germany's relations with Turkey have strained earlier this year when Berlin refused to allow Turkish politicians to campaign there ahead of the April 16 referendum in which the people voted to change Turkey from a parliamentary to a presidential system of governance.
Ankara recently turned down a request by German lawmakers to visit German troops stationed at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey as part of the NATO coalition fighting Daesh.