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German lawmakers visit NATO air base in Konya

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A delegation of German lawmakers on Friday visited German soldiers stationed at a NATO airbase in the Turkish province of Konya following NATO’s mediation in a row between the two allies, the Doğan news agency reported on Friday.

The Turkish government earlier gave a German defense commission team permission to visit their troops at the NATO base in Konya upon NATO’s request.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had offered to broker a compromise between the two NATO allies by arranging a visit by Bundestag lawmakers to German troops serving at the military base in Konya.

“The secretary-general has now offered to arrange a visit for parliamentarians to Konya airfield within the NATO framework,” alliance spokesman Piers Cazalet said. “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 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 there, NATO’s concern about further withdrawals has increased and urged it to take action.

After being denied a visit to German troops by Ankara, 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.”

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.

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