German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has said he sought to win the support of Washington concerning a dispute with Turkey over İncirlik Airbase, the Deutsche Welle reported on Thursday.
Gabriel said on Wednesday that he used his face-to-face meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to ask the US to help resolve Germany’s diplomatic feud with Turkey over İncirlik Airbase.
Gabriel said he expected the US to confront Ankara as to why a German delegation was this week prevented from visiting Turkey’s İncirlik facility, where some 260 Bundeswehr troops are stationed.
In response to statements from Berlin that troops may be moved to another country from Turkey, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Thursday that Germany was welcome to withdraw its troops from İncirlik if it so desired.
“If they want to leave, let’s just say goodbye. That’s up to them, and we won’t beg to them,” Çavuşoğlu told Turkish broadcaster NTV.
Speaking to German newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung German Minister Gabriel said on Wednesday that “if the German parliament is to be blackmailed, then the limit of tolerance has been reached.”
“I can only hope that the Turkish government will change its mind in the coming days. Otherwise, the German Bundestag will certainly not leave the soldiers in Turkey,” Gabriel added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also 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.
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 İncirlik in Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus.
Germany has more than 250 troops stationed at İncirlik along with Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling aircraft that are flown as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) .