Turkey to permit German defense minister to visit İncirlik air base
AFP photoTurkey will permit German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to visit the İncirlik Air Base, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said June 27 after a row erupted between the two countries when Turkey barred a German political delegation from making a trip to the base.
“Turkey will allow the German defense minister” to make a visit to İncirlik, said Yıldırım on June 27 upon a question at a press conference organized to announce a deal with Israel for the normalization of the countries’ strained ties.
“There is no problem,” Yıldırım added.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on June 23 that a visit by German politicians to İncirlik, one of the centers from where the U.S-led anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) campaign is being managed in southern Turkey, was “not appropriate.”
“It is not appropriate for non-military delegations and politicians to visit the İncirlik Air Base,” said Çavuşoğlu, after German media reported that Germany’s state secretary for defense, Ralf Brauksiepe, and other lawmakers had been barred by Turkey from making a visit to the base in Turkey’s south in July.
Von der Leyen told Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper on June 26 that she would personally go to İncirlik.
Last December, Germany agreed to send Tornado surveillance jets and tanker aircraft to İncirlik to aid the multinational coalition fighting ISIL in Syria. It has about 250 soldiers stationed at İncirlik.
However, Berlin angered NATO ally Turkey when its parliament passed a resolution this month declaring the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces a “genocide.”
Çavuşoğlu refrained from linking the government’s denial of the visit to the genocide resolution, although German media reported that Turkey had said it blocked the visit because of the Armenian vote.