German minister to address troop ‘problems’ in Turkey

German minister to address troop ‘problems’ in Turkey

German minister to address troop ‘problems’ in Turkey

Around 300 German soldiers are on duty in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey. REUTERS photo

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere has admitted that conditions could be better for Bundeswehr troops stationed in Kahramanmaraş city of Turkey, after a critical report was published on the situation.

De Maiziere made the comments after a report by Germany’s special commissioner for the armed forces, Hellmut Königshaus, which said cooperation between the German and Turkish contingents was “perceived mainly as a problem.”

The Königshaus’ report claimed that meals were monotonous and that usually there was only cold food. Toilets were described as “filthy,” most of them having no flush. The bodies of dead dogs, shot by the Turkish soldiers, had been left to decompose on the site. Soldiers’ post was being held back so that it did not reach them for days, or even weeks, according to the report, which also added that soldiers were forced to exchange euros at poor rates in currency exchange offices.

De Maiziere said he had noted that there were issues to address while on a visit to the site where German soldiers are deployed. “Even though I tend to be shown the better side of how things are, I also perceived that there were certain problems,” de Maiziere told the German daily Bild. He stressed the armed forces first had to ensure that they could fulfill their mission, but at present the most important aspect was to improve troop conditions.

He said Turkey had gone to great lengths to provide good accommodation, adding that work on new quarters was being completed. “When this new accommodation is ready, a lot of things will change when it comes to the issues that have been brought up,” he said. He added Turkish officials had reprimanded German soldiers for contact with their Turkish counterparts. One German female soldier was allegedly pushed by a Turkish general during a visit by de Maiziere to the base. She later complained of bruising.

Turkish General Staff denies reports with a statement
Meanwhile, the Turkish General Staff refuted March 3 reports in the German press that German troops based in Kahramanmaraş had been subjected to poor treatment and that a female officer was assaulted by a Turkish soldier. 

No complaints or demands have been made regarding the conditions of the German soldiers, the General Staff said in its statement, adding that the German chancellor and interior minister had both praised the assistance provided by Turkish troops during their respective visits last week.