NATO offers to broker compromise in Turkish-German row
BERLIN – Reuters
NATO’s secretary general is offering to broker a visit by German lawmakers to troops serving on a Turkish air base in an attempt to heal a rift between the two allies which is disrupting anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) operations.
The mediation offer by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, announced on July 24, came as Ankara itself sought to limit the economic fallout from the damaging row with Berlin, dropping a request for Germany to help it investigate hundreds of German companies it said could have links to terrorism.
Turkey is refusing to let German members of parliament visit soldiers stationed at two air bases. For historical reasons, Germany’s soldiers answer to parliament and Berlin insists lawmakers have access to them.
This has already led Germany to move troops involved in the campaign against ISIL from Turkey’s İncirlik base to Jordan. The risk of further decampments has sparked deep concern in NATO and now prompted it to intervene.
“The Secretary General has now offered to arrange a visit for parliamentarians to Konya airfield within a NATO framework,” alliance spokesman Piers Cazalet said on July24. “Konya airfield is vital for NATO operations in support of Turkey and the Counter-ISIS Coalition.”
Germany has warned its nationals travelling to Turkey that they do so “at their own risk,” and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was “jeopardizing the centuries-old partnership.”
Stepping back from confrontation, Turkey’s interior minister on July 24 told his German counterpart that Ankara’s submission to Interpol of a list of nearly 700 German companies suspected of backing terrorism had stemmed from “a communications problem.”
Turkey had merely asked Interpol for information regarding the exports of 40 Turkish companies with alleged links to U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said. He promised that Turkey would remain a “safe haven” for foreign investors.