BERLIN — Turkey has agreed to allow German lawmakers to visit soldiers stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in October, signaling some progress in easing strains between the two NATO allies, Germany’s Foreign Minister said on Thursday.
Turkey had banned German lawmakers from visiting the base in response to a parliamentary resolution declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a Genocide.
“I welcome the fact the Turkish government has now approved the plans for a visit by the defense committee of the German parliament” to the Incirlik base in Turkey, said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“With this decision by the Turkish government, we have taken a step forward,” he said after months of discord since the German parliament in June angered Turkey by labeling the Ottomans’ World War I-era killing of Armenians a “genocide”.
The lawmakers will be able to visit Incirlik from October 4-6, the Bundestag said in a statement.
Steinmeier added that “an armed force mandated by parliament must be able to be visited by its lawmakers”.
Germany has some 200 troops stationed at the base in southern Turkey, from where it flies Tornado surveillance missions over Syria and refuelling flights as part of multinational efforts to fight the Islamic State group.
Germany last week stressed that the Armenia resolution was a political statement and not legally binding, in what was widely read as an attempt to soothe Turkey’s anger.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had signalled Wednesday Ankara was ready to calm the bitter dispute between the EU’s top economy and its NATO ally, but warned against treating Turkey as a “second-class country”.