BERLIN — Turkey has prohibited several German members of parliament from visiting German soldiers stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, people familiar with the matter told dpa on Monday.
As a result, the German federal government is considering removing its soldiers from the base, according to information given to members of the Bundestag defence committee by the Defence Ministry.
Wolfgang Hellmich, the chairman of the Bundestag Defense Committee, told the German news agency dpa “we’re not going to be blackmailed” by the Ankara government after a second German parliamentary delegation was prevented from visiting Turkey’s Incirlik facility. The air base is being used in the international fightback against so-called “Islamic State” (IS) militants.
A decision on where to move the Tornado units is likely to be made in the next few weeks, with Jordan seen as a favorite, sources from the Bundestag committee said.
Last year a delegation of lawmakers including members of a parliamentary defence committee were initially denied access to Incirlik, but were later allowed to carry out the trip.
Germany has about 260 soldiers stationed at Incirlik as part of the anti-Islamic State military coalition. The German deployment is a combat-support mission which includes reconnaissance and jet refuelling.
The dispute first arose after the German parliament voted to recognized the crimes committed by Ottoman Turks against Armenians in 1915 as constituting genocide.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to lobby Germany’s Turkish expatriate population to vote in favour of constitutional reform to extend his powers earlier this year caused new tensions between the two countries.
The sources said the latest decision from Turkish authorities had been taken in part as a response to Germany’s decision to grant political asylum to members of the Turkish army.
The Defence Ministry has already vetted alternative military bases for its soldiers in Jordan, Cyprus and Kuwait and a decision is expected in the coming weeks.