Fighting PKK is also in Germany’s interest: Berlin
AFP photoGermany’s top diplomat has underlined that eradicating all financial resources to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Germany and preventing its activities on German soil are in the interest of Berlin, ahead of a visit to Ankara to resolve the İncirlik Air Base crisis so that parliamentarians can visit German troops stationed at the base.
“It’s totally in our interest not to leave any room for PKK activities on German territory and to eradicate the PKK’s financial resources. Turkey is right to bring this issue to the agenda,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told the Bild am Sonntag on June 4 in an interview.
The PKK is a banned organization in Germany because of its heavy involvement in the illegal trafficking of weapons and drugs, as well as its engagement in racketeering, Gabriel said regarding Turkish criticisms that Berlin was not doing enough to stop PKK activities.
Gabriel’s messages came as he is expected to be hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım along with his discussions with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Ankara. Both sides have issued warm messages over the need to normalize relations between Ankara and Berlin so as to resolve the İncirlik saga.
Turkey has refused to allow a group of German lawmakers to visit İncirlik, where around 250 German troops along with six Tornado surveillance airplanes are stationed as part of an international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on the grounds that German authorities granted asylum to former senior Turkish military personnel who fled after last year’s coup.
Gabriel underlined the need for a lasting solution to the İncirlik crisis, saying “Turkey should be able to grant the right to visit [for German lawmakers] in a way to not leave any room for doubt. If Turkey cannot or does want to do this, then we should come to a joint agreement on ending the deployment of our troops in İncirlik.”
In the event that talks fail with Ankara, Germany will consider transferring its troops to alternative bases, most likely in Jordan, he said.
Ankara’s concerns on FETÖ
In Ankara, Yıldırım stressed that Turkey’s main problem with Germany was Berlin’s granting asylum to coup plotters fleeing country after the July 15, 2016, coup attempt.
“There are issues we can’t agree on with Germany. On the top of them is Germany’s unsatisfactory stance against FETÖ [Fethullahist Terror Organization] members. They are positive to [FETÖ members’] asylum requests. They haven’t intervened in the activities of FETÖ members even after the coup attempt. In addition, they are also tolerant toward the activities of PKK members. We can’t accept this,” Yıldırım told the editors-in-chief of media outlets on June 3 in Ankara.
Yıldırım said a deterioration in ties between Turkey and Germany would be disadvantageous to both countries.
“In almost every platform, our president and I have repeated that [German support for FETÖ] harms the relationship of two countries that enjoy a historical strategic partnership in NATO. On Monday, the German foreign minister will arrive, and he will discuss all these issues with our foreign minister. We’ll discuss the İncirlik issue and other issues. Our goal is to reconcile our relations.”
Yıldırım also highlighted that Turkey’s vision was based on putting things with Germany back on track as well as on the normalization of the accession process to the European Union. “But this can’t be done upon just one side’s will. Germany should also act in this regard. I hope common sense will prevail. Our general principle is to increase friends while lessening the number of our enemies.”
Parties close to a formula
In an earlier statement, Erdoğan hinted that permission could be given to such a visit on the condition that Turkey would agree on the visitors. “There may be some [lawmakers] who have joined in activities against us. Our reservation is about them. This will be evaluated,” he said.
Yıldırım also categorized the İncirlik crisis as artificial and conjectural, highlighting the fact that Germany would go to elections this fall.