German delegation allowed to visit airbase in Turkey after NATO mediates

Turkish government allowed German defense commission team to visit their troops at the NATO base in Konya on September 8, after NATO mediated in row between two allies, Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday.

German public television ARD said on Tuesday that Turkish government gave the Federal Parliament Defense Commission team the permission to visit NATO base in Konya on September 8 upon NATO’s request.

The Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller will be leading a team of German lawmakers during the visit of German troops.

The chairman of the German parliament’s defence committee, Wolfgang Hellmich said on Tuesday that the proposal about NATO’s leading the visit was made by Gottemoeller.
“This is an important step in that it clearly shows the permission to visit among NATO members is a noncontestable right,” said Hellmich.

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

“The Secretary-General has now offered to arrange a visit for parliamentarians to Konya airfield within a 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 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.

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.”

Meanwhile, Turkey’s autocratic President Tayyip Erdoğan has continued Germany-bashing on Monday  and accused the country of assisting terrorists by failing to respond to Turkey’s requests to hand over suspects wanted by Turkish authorities.

Speaking during a conference for ruling party members in northwest Rize province on Monday, Erdoğan said, “We gave [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel 4,500 dossiers [about suspects in Germany who are wanted in Turkey], but have not received an answer on a single one of them,” Reuters reported.

Claiming that Germany is abetting terrorists, Erdoğan said: “When there is a terrorist, they can tell us to give that person back. You won’t send the ones you have to us, but can ask us for yours. So you have a judiciary, but we don’t in Turkey?”

Turkey claims some key suspects in the perpetration of a failed coup in 2016 fled to Germany and is demanding that Berlin hand them over to the Turkish judiciary. German authorities have not responded to Ankara amid reports of torture in Turkish jails, especially in the case of coup suspects.

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.”

A controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, killed 249 people. 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.

The already tense relations between the two countries are further strained due to several issues, including Berlin’s refusal to extradite asylum seekers Ankara accuses of involvement in last year’s failed coup against the Turkish government, while Berlin is demanding the release of imprisoned Turkish-German journalists and human rights defenders who were put in jail on terror charges. (SCF with

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