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DIPLOMACY >Germany sees Jordan as alternative to Turkey’s İncirlik base

ANKARA/BERLIN - Reuters

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Berlin could move its soldiers to another country from Turkey such as Jordan if Ankara does not grant permission to members of the German parliament’s defense committee to visit staff currently serving at a NATO mission İncirlik Air Base, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

Merkel said on May 15 that it was essential for lawmakers to be able to visit the more than 250 soldiers serving at İncirlik, where they are involved in a NATO mission targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.

“We will continue to talk with Turkey, but in parallel we will have to explore other ways of fulfilling our mandate,” Merkel said.

“That means looking at alternatives to İncirlik, and one alternative among others is Jordan,” she said.

Members of the German parliament’s defense committee have been blocked from visiting troops stationed at the base, officials said May 15.

The lawmakers were denied a visit to the base as it was not deemed appropriate at this time, sources in Turkey’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters, without elaborating. 

A spokesman for the German foreign minister said it was “completely unacceptable” for Turkey to keep German lawmakers from visiting their own soldiers.

“A visit by lawmakers must be made possible,” Martin Schaefer said, adding that Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel would raise the issue with colleagues from other NATO governments in Washington on May 16. 
German government spokesman Stefan Seibert said Berlin would consider alternative places to station the soldiers.

Relations between the NATO allies were strained in the run-up to the April 16 referendum, when Germany banned Turkish politicians from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks, citing public safety concerns.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Berlin of “Nazi-like” tactics. 

In 2016, Turkey banned German lawmakers from visiting the base for months in response to a resolution in the Bundestag declaring the 1915 killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule a “genocide,” a term Ankara denies.

May/15/2017

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