German Foreign Minister Says Germany Will Pull Forces Out of Turkey’s Incirlik Base

ANKARA, Turkey (A.W.)— German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced on June 5 that Germany will pull its forces out of the Incirlik air force base in Turkey, despite negotiations in the Turkish capital with Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu. The negotiations, which were aimed to defuse the diplomatic dispute between the two countries, fell through according to Gabriel, who made the announcement during a joint press conference with Cavusoglu.

“We have to respect that Turkey for domestic political reasons cannot approve visits. But then you know the opinion of the German parliament which will now in the very near future make reference to that part of the mandate which says that, if visits aren’t possible, the German government will have to look for another location,” Gabriel was quoted as saying by Europe-based Euronews news outlet.

The diplomatic dispute between Germany and Turkey escalated after German Parliamentarians were refused access to the air force base. Currently, Germany has more than 250 military personnel stationed at Incirlik. They have been responsible for operating reconnaissance and refueling flights as part of the international mission against ISIS/Daesh.

Although Turkey has refused German Members of Parliament (MP) to access to Incirlik, it has granted them access to base in Konya. “German MPs can visit the Konya base. There is no problem to visit Konya where we have a NATO base. And we are working on the technical details. At the moment there is no decision for Incirlik,” Cavusoglu said at the press conference, according to Euronews.

In a May 17 interview, the German Foreign Minister criticized Turkey’s decision to block a German delegation from visiting Bundeswehr (The unified armed forces of Germany) soldiers stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik base. “[If] the German Parliament is to be blackmailed, then the limit of tolerance has been reached,” Gabriel told German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

In that interview, Gabriel noted that if cooperation regarding the situation is no longer possible, then Germany would consider other options including Kuwait, Cyprus, and Jordan. According to Deutsche Welle, Turkey’s was allegedly in response to the German government’s decision in early May to grant asylum to Turkish military personnel.

The German newspaper Bild reported on May 16 that two more high-ranking members of Turkey’s military applied for asylum at the international airport in Frankfurt. Bild added that these two men were Turkish generals who were involved in last July’s failed military coup.

Relations between Turkey and Germany have grown increasingly tense over the last few months and worsened during Turkey’s referendum campaign on expanding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers. Turkish Ministers who were campaigning for the support of expanding powers for Erdogan were prohibited from holding rallies in Germany.

Last year, Ankara blocked German Parliamentarians from visiting the Incirlik airbase after the Bundestag passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.


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