German MPs visit Turkish İncirlik base after ban lifted

German MPs visit Turkish İncirlik base after ban lifted

ADANA – Doğan News Agency
German MPs visit Turkish İncirlik base after ban lifted

AA photo

Seven German lawmakers visited the İncirlik air base lying close to Syria on Oct. 5 to inspect German troops in a highly sensitive visit held up for months due to a diplomatic row.

Ankara had barred the group from visiting İncirlik in southern Turkey after the Bundestag passed a bill that labeled the World War I-era killing of Anatolian Armenians as “genocide.”

The lawmakers, Christian Democrat lawmakers Karl A. Lamers, İngo Gaedechens and Florian Hahn, Social Democrat parliamentarians Rainer Arnold and Dr. Karl Heinz Brunner, Dr. Alexander S. Neu from the Left party and Agnieszka Brugger from the Greens, landed at the base on the afternoon of Oct. 5.

Strained relations between Ankara and Berlin due to the Armenian bill worsened after Turkey rejected a German parliamentary delegation’s visit in late June to the base.

Berlin had threatened the removal of its military presence at the base to another regional country in response. 

The German troops and jets at İncirlik contribute to the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, along with jets from other countries, including the United States, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Denmark and Qatar.

In September, the Turkish government issued permission for the German MPs to conduct the visit.

Speaking Oct. 4 after visiting the Turkish Parliament, which was bombed during the failed July 15 coup attempt, Brugger said the visit the parliament was important to understand the importance of some fundamental rights. 

“I have once again understood the importance of human rights, media freedom and democracy after we observed the bombed parts of the Turkish Parliament,” Brugger said.

The German MPs held two hours of “extremely open and friendly” talks with the Turkish parliament’s Defense Committee earlier in the day, Lamers told reporters.