NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is working to arrange a visit by Bundestag lawmakers to German troops serving at a military base in Turkey in order to mediate and improve relations between the two countries.
“The Secretary-General has now offered to arrange a visit for parliamentarians to Konya airfield within a NATO framework,” alliance spokesman Piers Cazalet said on Monday. “Konya airfield is vital for NATO operations in support of Turkey and the Counter-ISIS Coalition.”
Turkey denied German lawmakers a visit to German troops flying AWACS surveillance planes from the NATO base in Konya province due to tense relations between the two countries.
As 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, NATO’s concern about further withdrawals has increased and urged it to take action.
The tension that already existed between the two NATO allies after Turkey’s crackdown on opposition groups since a failed coup attempt last July escalated when six human rights activists, including one German national Peter Steudtner, were arrested last week in Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan is believed to be detaining German nationals to force the deportation of Turkish asylum seekers, who Erdoğan accuses of having mounted a botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016, from Germany.