Ankara, June 5, 2017 (AFP) – Turkish foreign ministers said on Monday that German deputies were still not allowed to visit the incirlik military base in southern Turkey where German soldiers are deployed .
“At present, it is possible (to the Germans) to visit the NATO base in Konya (center), but not Incirlik,” Mevlüt Cavusoglu told a joint press conference with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Ankara.
The latter said “regret” this decision, reiterating that Germany could, if necessary, “transfer its soldiers” elsewhere. However, “there is not yet a decision or concrete plan” in this sense, added Mr. Gabriel.
This issue has caused a renewed tension between Ankara and Berlin, two partners within NATO whose relations have deteriorated in recent months, notably since the missed putsch of July 15.
Ankara banned German parliamentarians in mid-May from traveling to Incirlik to meet German soldiers deployed there. Turkey justified its ban by accusing Berlin of granting political asylum to Turkish nationals, including soldiers accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being linked to the July coup attempt. The Incirlik base, located in southern Turkey, is used in particular for the operations of the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke last month about possible “alternative solutions to Incirlik”, such as Jordan. Another subject of tension between Ankara and Berlin is the case of Deniz Yücel, a binational journalist imprisoned since February in Turkey where he is accused of “espionage” and “terrorist” activities.
“The accusation is not related to journalistic activities, but with terrorist activities,” said Mr. Cavusoglu on Monday, adding, before Gabriel, that “European intelligence agencies use journalists as spies “.
After his Turkish counterpart, Mr. Gabriel was to be received in the afternoon by President Erdogan.
On the other hand, a planned meeting with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was canceled by the Turkish side because of an “overloaded agenda”, a Turkish official told AFP.