German lawmakers cancel visit after Ankara refuses meetings

German lawmakers cancel visit after Ankara refuses meetings

German lawmakers cancel visit after Ankara refuses meetings

AP photo

A deputy speaker of Germany’s parliament stated on May 24 that a parliamentary delegation had scrapped long-standing plans to visit Turkey, after finding out at the last minute that it would not be able to hold talks with officials or visit the Turkish Parliament building.

Claudia Roth, a Green Party lawmaker and vice president of the Bundestag (German lower house), said Turkish officials had informed her that the German delegation would not have access to parliament in Ankara or security guards.

“It was thought that the visit was not an appropriate at this time, so we declined their requests for the meetings,” a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. 

The cancellation of the visit comes amid strained relations between the two NATO allies that have deteriorated over Turkey’s refusal to allow German parliamentarians access to troops based at the İncirlik air base. Germany, in response, warned that it could move its troops elsewhere, with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel accusing Turkey of “blackmail.”

“Yesterday we received the information that the highest level on the Turkish side considers that at the moment it is not suitable for German members of parliament to conduct political discussions in Turkey,” Roth said.

“This is de facto a rejection of political dialogue. It is a red card for the German parliament,” she added.

Roth, a member of the opposition Greens, was due to head the four-member delegation from three parties on a May 25-28 visit to Ankara, Diyarbakır and İstanbul.

The lawmakers were planning to meet with Turkish lawmakers, journalists, representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of EU Affairs and human rights activists in Ankara, with the governor, members of the city council, and representatives of civil society in Diyarbakır, along with a visit to the Turkish Parliament.