Ankara Keeps Incirlik Base Closed for German Lawmakers, Sigmar Gabriel Says
Turkey's Incirlik air base will be closed for the German lawmakers, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday at a press briefing with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Turkey will not give German lawmakers a right to visit the Incirlik air base, where German military personnel is deployed, Gabriel stated.
"Turkey has made clear that, for domestic reasons, it cannot approve visits of all lawmakers.
I regret that, but Turkey must understand that for domestic political reasons, we must transfer German soldiers out of Incirlik… In this situation, the Bundestag [the German parliament] will ask the government to find another location for the German soldiers in Incirlik," Gabriel said, as quoted by the Deutsche Welle broadcaster.
Cavusoglu, meanwhile, said that the German delegation could visit the NATO base in Konya, not Incirlik, adding that Ankara was ready for improving relations with Berlin in case of friendly steps made by the German authorities.
In early May, Turkey blocked a group of German lawmakers from visiting servicemen stationed at Incirlik.
This move prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to suggest that Berlin may move some 250 German troops from the Turkish base to a neighboring country.
Mustafa Yeneroglu, a Turkish lawmaker representing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told Sputnik that the decision to ban German lawmakers from entering the base was made due to the threat that the delegation included politicians, who supported the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group listed as a terrorist organization in Turkey.