Germany to vote on withdrawal from İncirlik in two weeks’ time
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
The Bundestag will likely vote to withdraw troops involved in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria from the Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base within a fortnight if Ankara persists in denying German MPs access to the site, German FM Sigmar Gabriel said May 17.
“I can only hope that the Turkish government changes its mind in the coming days. Otherwise, the German parliament will certainly not leave the soldiers in Turkey,” Gabriel told the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.
A visit of German lawmakers to İncirlik would “not be appropriate at this juncture,” a Turkish official told the Daily News.
The German government will hold talks in the Bundestag within two weeks to decide whether to transfer six Tornado reconnaissance planes, a refueling plane and 250 troops to Jordan.
German diplomatic sources also told the Hürriyet Daily News that it would take six to eight weeks to finalize the transit if approved.
Sources say that if Germany’s parliament decides to do so, the government plans to withdraw military elements at İncirlik, although German pilots who fly AWACS planes in Konya as part of the NATO mission will continue in their posts.
Diplomatic sources said Berlin’s potential move would be the first time in NATO’s history that a member state withdraws a military installation from one ally and moves it to a non-NATO country, noting that the move would have a negative effect on the alliance’s solidarity.
However, a possible meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a NATO meeting on May 25 could ease tension between Ankara and Berlin. The meeting is not confirmed yet, but Turkish the side said it was likely to occur.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated sharply after a series of diplomatic rows.
Turkey was angered by Germany’s cancellation of political rallies in support of Erdoğan ahead of the April 16 referendum and is furious that Germany is granting asylum to Turks accused of participating in the July 2016 failed coup.
Several Turkish soldiers and their families, all stationed at NATO facilities in Germany, have been granted asylum in a preliminary decision, the German Interior Ministry said. The military employees had filed for asylum in Germany after facing alleged persecution following the failed coup of July 15, 2016.
The Interior Ministry also divulged that a total of 262 of those applications had come from Turkish officials holding diplomatic passports, but it did not say how many of the requests had come directly from military personnel stationed at NATO bases.
Bild reported that two Turkish generals sought asylum at Frankfurt airport late on May 16.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on May 16 that Germany has a choice to make: grant asylum to Turkish NATO officials who the Turkish government accuses of being involved in the failed coup attempt or “turn its face to the Turkish Republic.”