First Published: 2017-05-18

Turkey says won't 'beg' Germany to remain at NATO base
Ankara, Berlin are locked in another spat over Turkey's refusal to allow German lawmakers to visit Incirlik base near Syria.
Middle East Online

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen visits German Armed Forces Bundeswehr at Incirlik base in Turkey

ANKARA - Turkey on Thursday hit back at German threats to pull its troops out of a key NATO base on its soil, saying it would "not beg" them to stay.

Ankara and Berlin are locked in another spat over Turkey's refusal to allow German lawmakers to visit the Incirlik base near Syria, which is used by the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

Germany warned earlier this week that it could move its troops elsewhere, with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel accusing Turkey of "blackmail".

"It is up to them, we will not beg them," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told NTV, saying Ankara was not blackmailing Germany.

Germany has about 250 military personnel stationed at the base, flying Tornado surveillance missions over Syria and refuelling flights for partner nations battling IS jihadists.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday described Turkey's position as "unfortunate", saying that Germany, while continuing talks to resolve the issue, would also look for alternatives, including in Jordan.

Gabriel accused Ankara on Wednesday of "looking to blackmail" the German parliament.

"If it is not possible to work normally at Incirlik -- and this includes visits by German parliament lawmakers -- then we will have to look for alternatives," he told German newspaper Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung.

"I can only hope that the Turkish government will change its mind in the coming days. Otherwise, the parliament will no longer let our soldiers go to Turkey."

Cavusoglu said if Gabriel made such remarks, it was "disrespectful" as Turkish and German officials were working to improve relations.

He said Gabriel had made different remarks in private, suggesting the minister was using the dispute for political gain ahead of September elections in Germany.

Ties between the NATO allies have been strained since the failed coup in Turkey last year, but have worsened over multiple issues including the referendum campaign to expand President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

Relations plunged further after Turkey imprisoned Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist with Die Welt, on terror charges earlier this year while Germany granted political asylum to some Turkish military officers accused of involvement in the attempted putsch.

Last year, another row over Incirlik saw Turkey deny German lawmakers the right to visit for many months after the German parliament voted to recognise the Ottoman Empire's World War I-era massacre of Armenians as a genocide.

 

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Faz3a, a local NGO mobilising young people to help Mosul refugees

24 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey says over 4,000 judges, prosecutors dismissed since coup

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges

Jewish extremists ejected from Aqsa mosque compound

Prominent Egypt rights lawyer detained

Oil producers to extend output curbs at OPEC meeting

NATO aims to break Turkey-Austria partnership deadlock

Tunisia tensions simmer after protester's death

Terrorist bomb attack kills 22 at UK pop concert

Bahrain police raid Shiite sit-in killing one protester

Trump says Israelis, Palestinians ‘can make a deal’

Five dead in Syria car bomb attacks

Syria civilians suffer deadliest month of US-led strikes

US forces raid Al-Qaeda in Yemen, kill seven jihadists

Islamists to join Algeria cabinet despite poor results

Tunisia's 2.1% GDP growth marks economic upturn

Trump meets Palestinian leader in Bethlehem

Istanbul demolishes nightclub targeted in New Year attack