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Turkey continues to refuse German MPs access to airbase

Image of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on 29th May 2012 [U.S. Air Force/Marissa Tucker/]
Image of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on 29th May 2012 [U.S. Air Force/Marissa Tucker/]

Turkey’s foreign minister said yesterday that it was still not possible to allow German lawmakers to visit their troops stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base now, although Ankara might reconsider if it saw “positive steps” from Berlin.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also said the issue would be discussed with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is due to visit Turkey on Monday. Ties between the NATO allies deteriorated sharply in the run-up to Turkey’s 16 April referendum that handed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stronger presidential powers.

Turkey has prevented German lawmakers from visiting the roughly 250 troops stationed at Incirlik as part of the US-led coalition against Daesh, saying that Berlin needs to improve its attitude first.

Read: ‘Goodbye,’ Turkey says as Germany threatens to leave Incirlik

“We see that Germany supports everything that is against Turkey,” Cavusoglu told a news conference.

Under these circumstances it is not possible for us to open Incirlik to German lawmakers right now…If they take positive steps in the future we can reconsider.

Turkey was infuriated when Germany, citing security concerns and, in some cases, issues with car parking, banned some Turkish politicians from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks ahead of the referendum. Ankara responded by accusing Berlin of “Nazi-like” tactics.

Meanwhile, members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are allowed to operate freely in Germany, despite Turkey, the United States and the European Union having blacklisted the extremist Kurdish group as a terrorist organisation.

Germany has expressed concern about the widespread security crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup in Turkey. More than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and more than 40,000 people jailed.

Read: Germany’s Angela Merkel in hot water over Turkey airbase row

However, Ankara feels that Berlin is showing double standards by criticising alleged Turkish human rights abuses whilst providing safe harbour to the PKK who has waged a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state seeking to tear off a large chunk of the country. 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have died as a result of the PKK’s militancy since the 1980s.

German officials said this month that 414 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports and other government work permits had requested asylum since the attempted putsch. Berlin’s interior ministry has confirmed that asylum requests had been approved for a number of the applicants, a move that angered Ankara.

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