Berlin warns Ankara against ‘blackmail’ over İncirlik

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BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 26: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (not seen) hold a press conference after their meeting in Berlin on April 26, 2017. AFP

Amid tensions between Berlin and Ankara over the granting of political asylum to Turkish military personnel and the blocking of a parliamentary delegation from visiting Bundeswehr soldiers stationed at İncirlik Airbase, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called on Turkey on not to engage in blackmail, DW reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, “If the German parliament is to be blackmailed, then the limit of tolerance has been reached,” Gabriel told German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.
“I can only hope that the Turkish government will change its mind in the coming days,” he said. “Otherwise, the German Bundestag will certainly not leave the soldiers in Turkey.”

Gabriel noted that if cooperative work is no longer possible out of Incirlik, including members of parliament visiting soldiers on the base, “then we have to consider alternatives.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany may move its soldiers to another country if Ankara does not grant permission to members of the German parliament’s defense committee to visit staff currently serving in a NATO mission at İncirlik Airbase in southern Turkey.

Wolfgang Hellmich, chairman of the Bundestag Defense Committee, told German news agency dpa “We’re not going to be blackmailed” by the Ankara government.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the Defense Ministry was already checking out alternatives to Incirlik in Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus.

In the meantime, two Turkish generals who are accused of taking part in a failed military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 applied for asylum in Germany on Tuesday night, the German Bild daily reported on Wednesday.

The paper said that after the initial processing of their applications, the generals would be taken to a refugee camp in the German town of Giessen.

According to a report in German news magazine Der Spiegel in early May, at least 450 Turkish diplomats, military personnel, judges and other civil servants have been seeking asylum in Germany in a bid to escape a post-coup crackdown back home.

On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım called on Germany to make a choice between Ankara and alleged coup plotters who have sought asylum in the country in the aftermath of the failed coup on July 15.

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