Germans in İncirlik may return: Vice chancellor
REUTERS photoGermany will recall its troops from İncirlik Airbase in Turkey if Ankara continues to block lawmakers from visiting its soldiers there, the vice chancellor announced.
“The German army answers to parliament,” Social Democrat leader and Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told the regional newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.
“And if parliament cannot visit its army, then the army cannot stay there. This is absolutely clear,” Gabriel said, adding that all 250 soldiers at the base - part of NATO operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - could be pulled out.
Ankara strongly reacted to a resolution passed by Germany’s parliament in June that names the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as “genocide,” and has denied German MPs access to the İncirlik base.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said on July 12 that German MPs must be allowed to visit soldiers at the base, adding that she would try to resolve the issue with the Turkish government.
Turkey and Germany will continue to talk about a potential visit of German MPs to the İncirlik air base, where some 400 German soldiers are deployed, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said July 11, citing legal technicalities rather than political disagreements.
“There is a difference between the legal frameworks [of the two sides]. For us, the İncirlik base is a military issue. On Germany’s side, deploying soldiers to İncirlik - or to anywhere else - and monitoring the deployed soldiers, comes under the responsibility of the German Parliament. So in this sense visiting a base where German soldiers have been deployed is a political issue for Germany,” Kurtulmuş told reporters.