Turkey expects Merkel’s support to overcome İncirlik crisis
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
REUTERS photoThe Turkish government expects support and solidarity from its German counterpart in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup attempt through high-level visits and contacts in order to end the ongoing İncirlik Air Base crisis by easing conditions for a German parliamentary visit to the base.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planned to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in China, where both leaders will be present for the G-20 Summit on Sept. 3 and 4, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The Erdoğan-Merkel meeting will be highest level contact between the two countries since relations soured over the Bundestag’s resolution that labeled the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as genocide.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the state of bilateral ties, the potential visit of German lawmakers to İncirlik and the Turkey-EU migrant deal, which also contains visa liberalization for Turkish nationals in return of the implementation of the Readmission Agreement.
Turkey’s rejection of a German parliamentary delegation’s visit in late June to İncirlik Air Base, which hosts 250 German troops, six surveillance jets and a refueling tanker, deepened the row between the two allies, with threats from Berlin for the removal of its military presence to another regional country.
However, the visit of German EU Minister Michael Roth to Ankara last week seemed to inject hope into rebuilding Ankara-Berlin ties and overcoming the İncirlik crisis. Roth told broadcaster Suedwestrundfunk that the two countries had made progress in resolving the dispute over Incirlik. “I have the impression that there is great movement here,” Roth said. “I hope and wish that parliamentarians from our Bundestag will soon be able to visit our soldiers.”
Visit depends of Germany’s steps
However, in response to a question about Roth’s statement, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the much-anticipated visit of German MPs could only be possible if Berlin took “the necessary steps.”
“It depends on the steps taken by Germany. If they take the necessary steps we will enable this visit,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with visiting Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders on Aug. 29.
“But unfortunately I have to say that those that mingle and manipulate our history in an unfair manner cannot be allowed on this visit,” he said, in reference to the Armenian resolution.
The steps Çavuşoğlu mentioned have two important aspects, according to the diplomatic sources. First, Turkey expects the German government to announce that it does not embrace the Bundestag’s decision and therefore will not undertake governmental actions in that regard. Second, Turkey believes the support and solidarity shown by German officials in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup attempt have not been sufficient so far and thus expects a clear display of support to Ankara.
Merkel’s recent statements signaling her empathy with what happened in Turkey on July 15 were a first sign to this end, sources said, though they added more needed to be done through more talks between the two capitals.
Steinmeier’s visit looms
In the first instance, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier is expected to pay a visit to Turkey in mid-September, sources said. This visit is planned to take place on the eve of planned trip of German parliamentarians to İncirlik in October in a bid to remove the last hurdles before it and rebuild political ties.