Turkey confirms German MPs will visit troops in Konya under NATO flag
Turkey has confirmed German lawmakers will visit German troops based in a military base in the Central Anatolian province of Konya as part of a NATO trip, after efforts by the alliance’s secretary-general to resolve the row between the two allies.
“The visit is being planned to take place on Sept. 8 as part of a NATO mission with the participation of a senior NATO official. Talks on the details of the visit and steps to be taken afterwards are continuing at NATO,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on Aug. 10.
Relations between the two countries have been severely strained due to a number of reasons since last year. Germany had to withdraw its Tornado aircrafts and troops from the İncirlik base in the southern province of Adana after Ankara refused a visit by German lawmakers there due to political issues.
In a reconciliatory move, Turkey said a visit to the Konya base would be possible as German troops deployed there are operating under a NATO mission. However, this was also blocked by Turkey in protest against Berlin’s ban on a visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to meet the Turkish community living in Germany when he attended a G20 summit.
The row over Konya was averted after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg intervened and suggested that a NATO visit including German lawmakers to the base should be held, with the Turkish Foreign Ministry stressing on the constructive and facilitating role of Stoltenberg.
“Turkey continues its substantial contribution to the successful execution of all NATO operations and missions. Our approach on the visit of German lawmakers within a NATO delegation to the German troops as part of the AWACS Mission has been determined within this background,” it said.
However, details over the visit and the names of the German lawmakers who will take part in the mission are being discussed at the NATO headquarters. Turkey clarified to Germany that lawmakers who attended meetings and activities held by sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will not be allowed to visit the Turkish base.
More than a dozen German troops stationed at the Konya base are operating NATO’s early warning aircrafts in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The German army is under the strict control of the German parliament and visits to German troops deployed abroad are part of the parliament’s duties and responsibilities.