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Turkey responds over Incirlik access

August 29, 2016

Turkey says German MPs can visit the airbase if the Berlin government stops trying to distort Turkish history. German politicians have been blocked from touring the facility, where their own military is stationed.

Germany airforce A400M military plane at Ircilik airbase
Image: Reuters/F. Bimmer

Turkish Foreign Minster Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Ankara government would allow a German delegation to visit the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey "if Germany takes the necessary steps."

But his comments, following a meeting with his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders in Ankara Monday, didn't specify what concrete steps Turkey would want taken.

Cavusoglu added that those who try to "manipulate" Turkish history "in an unfair manner," would not receive permission to visit the facility, where German troops, six German surveillance jets, and a refueling tanker are part of the US-led coalition fighting "Islamic State" (IS) militants.

Genocide resolution

The foreign minister's comments were an apparent reference to the German parliament's recent passing of a resolution over the 1915 killings of millions of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, of which modern day Turkey emerged.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut CavusogluImage: picture-alliance/AA/R. Aydogan

The resolution says the deaths amounted to genocide, a term the Ankara government rejects. Turkey reacted angrily to the German resolution, vowing stiff action.

A delegation of German MPs were prevented from touring the base in early June, following the parliamentary vote.

Later Monday, Turkish foreign ministry officials were cited by the Reuters news agency as saying that "necessary steps" meant the German government must distance itself from the parliamentary resolution and make clear it did not support it.

Berlin may pull troops out

Several German MPs have called for the Bundeswehr's deployment to Incirlik to be cut at the end of the year, if Turkey keeps up its ban.

Germany's foreign ministry declined comment on Ankara's latest statement, but the country's European Affairs Minister, Michael Roth said after a visit to the Turkish capital that steps toward a solution were underway.

"I have the impression that there is great movement here," Roth told German public broadcaster SWR. "I hope and wish that parliamentarians from our Bundestag will soon be able to visit our soldiers," he added.

Relations between the NATO allies soured further after Turkey's failed July 15 coup; Turkey grew increasingly unhappy with what it saw as a slow German response in condemning the action.

mm/kms (dpa, Reuters)

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