NATO asks Turkey, Germany to reach consensus over base visits

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gestures as he talks to the media at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on July 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has asked Turkey and Germany to reach consensus over the visit of German lawmakers to a base in Turkey’s Konya province, the Diken news website reported on Monday.

Ankara prohibited German parliamentarians from visiting their soldiers flying AWACS surveillance planes for a NATO mission on an airbase in Konya province on the grounds of tense bilateral relations between the two countries, said Wolfgang Hellmich, chairman of the Bundestag’s defense committee.

According to Hellmich, Turkey proposed “postponing” Monday’s planned trip.

Stoltenberg called Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish minister of foreign affairs, and Sigmar Gabriel, German minister of foreign affairs, and asked them to end the disagreement between them, his spokesperson said.

“We hope that Turkey and Germany will reach a consensus on a visit date which is agreeable to both parties,” added the spokesperson.

After being denied a visit to German troops by Ankara last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there would be no compromise and that asylum applications by Turkish nationals in Germany would not be part of the political bargain since these two issues have “nothing, but nothing, to do with each other.”

Underlining that any demands from the Turkish authorities concerning asylum requests by Turkish citizens would be turned down, Merkel said: “Before we draw conclusions, we should first wait for talks and discuss these things with NATO’s help.”

Germany has begun to withdraw forces from Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase after the Turkish government denied requests from German parliamentarians to visit the troops at İncirlik.
Some lawmakers are reportedly demanding a withdrawal from Konya of German troops in the event Ankara refuses to agree.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry expressed regret in a statement in May over Germany approving the asylum requests of a number of Turkish military officers.

“With this decision, German authorities have shown tolerance and embraced a pro-coup mentality by disregarding democratic principles and values as well as the requirements of being allies,” said the ministry’s statement.”

The coup attempt on July 15 killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on faith based Gülen movement.
Contrary to accusations made by Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, on March 18 said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup attempt on July 15.

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