German MPs pay debated Turkey visit under NATO
REUTERS photoA much-anticipated visit from German lawmakers to German troops based in the Konya Air Base in Turkey has taken place under the NATO flag on Sept. 8, Turkish officials said, after a months-long row between Ankara and Berlin over the modalities of the visit.
Because of ongoing bilateral tension between the two NATO allies, Turkey had previously denied Germany’s attempt to visit troops deployed in the İncirlik Air Base near Adana, which had pushed Berlin to withdraw its soldiers and Tornado aircraft.
As a result of NATO’s engagement, seven members of the Bundestag Defense Committee could execute the visit as part of a NATO delegation led by Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller.
A NATO plane carrying seven lawmakers, Gottemoeller and other NATO officials took off from Brussels and landed in Konya on early Sept. 8 and left the military base after members of the defense committee of the German Parliament met with around two-dozen German troops that operate early warning aircraft under a NATO mission. AWACS are being used in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The meeting between Turkish and NATO officials lasted around two hours. No press were allowed to cover the German lawmakers’ visit to the Turkish base in Konya.
Ties between Turkey and Germany are passing through a dire strait since mid-2016 after the latter’s parliament recognized the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 at the hands of the Ottomans as genocide.
Their relations were strained further after Germany granted asylum to fleeing members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
Turkey refused to allow German lawmakers to visit the İncirlik Base in late 2016 because of the tension that led the German government to move its troops and Tornado aircraft based there to Jordan. Turkey said German lawmakers could visit the Konya Base as their troops were under the NATO mission but it underlined that it would not allow German MPs that have participated in Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) activities.