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.

 

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Saudi women embrace sports headscarves

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack

Turkey sentences 18 to life for killing ‘hero’ coup soldier

Exxon faces setback in Iraq as oil and water mix

Libya to clamp down on fuel smuggling

Yemen to arrest colonel for overlooking African migrant rape

Erdogan sends Turkey to snap polls on June 24

Qatar joins Gulf military exercise in apparent compromise

Saudi-Russia oil alliance likely to undercut OPEC

UN in security talks with Syria on chemical probe

Riyadh says two al Qaeda militants killed in Yemen

Record of women candidates in Lebanon, but you can't tell from TV

Sudan protests to UN over Egypt voting in disputed area

Erdogan calls Turkey snap polls for June 24

Rights watchdog say African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Nine years since last vote, Lebanon in election fever

Israeli fire neat Gaza border injures five Palestinian

Egypt army says killed jihadist leader in Sinai

Iraq sentences over 300 people to death for IS links

Syria chemical weapons visit delayed after gunfire

Syria regime shells last jihadist pockets in Damascus

After the war is won, ‘we shall not return’ to Mosul

Saudi Arabia to host cinema test screening with 'Black Panther'

Trump voices support for US pastor jailed in Turkey

Rouhani says Iran will make or buy any weapons it needs

US fears ceding influence to Russia, Iran in Syria

Nationalist Erdogan ally calls for snap Turkey elections

Saudi renews offer to deploy troops to Syria

Kaveh Madani, Iran’s expat eco-warrior who was on too many fronts