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    A technician works on a German Tornado jet at the NATO air base in Incirlik, Turkey. (File)

    German-Turkish Relations Hit New Low as NATO Partners Fall Out Over Airbase

    © AFP 2017/ Tobias Schwarz
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    Diplomatic relations between Berlin and Ankara have plunged to a new low after Turkey refused to allow German lawmakers access to German staff working at the strategically important Incirlik airbase in southwestern Turkey.

    Both Germany and Turkey are NATO members, but relations between the two countries have been marred by a series of fallouts in recent months — not least over media freedom and human rights issues.

    The latest row concerns the strategically import airbase at Incirlik airbase in southwestern Turkey, which is heavily used by other NATO members, including Germany, the US and the UK for operations in the Middle East.

    A Turkish Air Force F-4 fighter jet flies over a minaret after it took off from Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, August 12, 2015.
    © REUTERS/ Murad Sezer
    A Turkish Air Force F-4 fighter jet flies over a minaret after it took off from Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, August 12, 2015.

    ​There have been differences between Berlin and Ankara for months over demands by German MPs for access to their staff on the airbase, which they have been denied for a second time.

    Now the German Government has signaled that it may move its Tornado aircraft to another base — possibly in Jordan.

    Wolfgang Hellmich, the chairman of the Bundestag Defense Committee, told the German news agency DPA "we're not going to be blackmailed" by the Ankara government. 

    The latest spat comes after a series of fallouts between the two countries. Germany is demanding the release of Deniz Yuecel, a German-Turkish journalist working for 'Die Welt' newspaper. He was arrested and detained on charges of supporting a terrorist organization and inciting public violence.

    ​He is one of six German citizens detained in the crackdown on followers of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, now living in the US, who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for being behind the failed coup, July 2016.

    In September 2016, the front cover of the respected German magazine Der Spiegel, showed Erdogan wearing sunglasses reflecting two minarets as rockets taking off from a mosque and describing him in an article as a "Dictator."

    ​Prior to that, there was diplomatic strain when German satirist Jan Bohmermann broadcast a poem on ZDF television sitting in front of a portrait of Erdogan, reading out a poem that accusing the Turkish president of "repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians while watching child porn", among other things. Erdogan demanded that Bohmermann be prosecuted, but plans to do so were quietly dropped.

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    Tags:
    NATO base, military coup, military base, NATO, Deniz Yucel, Fethullah Gulen, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany, Turkey
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