German parliament to vote on removing troops from İncirlik amid deepening row with Turkey

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech on Europe at the Bundestag, the German lower house of parliament ahead of a EU summit in Brussels on April 27, 2017 in Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday told Britain not to have any "illusions" that it would have the same rights as an EU member after it leaves the bloc. / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Tuesday that the Bundestag is likely to vote on withdrawing troops from İncirlik Airbase in Turkey as Ankara continues to deny permission to German lawmakers to visit the facility.

Speaking with the German Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily on Tuesday, Gabriel said: “I can only hope that the Turkish government changes its mind in the coming days. Otherwise, the German parliament will certainly not leave the soldiers in Turkey.”

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.

Merkel said it was essential for lawmakers to be able to visit the more than 250 German soldiers at Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase, where they are involved in a NATO mission targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.

We will continue to talk with Turkey, but in parallel we will have to explore other ways of fulfilling our mandate,” Merkel said.

According to German media reports, Germany was exploring the possibility of redeploying the soldiers to Jordan. Berliner Zeitung reported that the opposition Greens and Left parties were calling for a vote on pulling the soldiers out.

Turkish-German relations deteriorated sharply after a series of diplomatic rows in recent months.

German authorities canceled a number of rallies by Turkish ministers before an April 16 referendum that greatly expanded President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers.

Turkey was also angered by Germany’s granting of asylum to more than 400 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports and other government work permits who were accused by Turkish authorities of involvement in a failed coup last summer.

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