00:45 GMT +316 December 2017
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    A technician works on a German Tornado jet at the NATO air base in Incirlik, Turkey.

    Erdogan to Allow German Lawmakers Access to Incirlik Base Under One Condition

    © AFP 2017/ Tobias Schwarz
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    Turkey, which stopped a group of German lawmakers from visiting Bundeswehr troops at the Incirlik air base earlier this month, might be willing to let the deputies in after all, Turkish President Erdogan said.

    Turkey is willing to discuss the possibility of German lawmakers visiting the Incirlik air base where some 260 German soldiers are stationed, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

    Erdogan said that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosoglu will discuss the issue with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel. 

    "Sometimes there may be those who openly support terrorists among German lawmakers… We expressed that some who openly support terrorists and almost act together with them will not be welcomed. Right now, our foreign ministers will discuss the issue with each other and we will take a step accordingly," Erdogan said, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported.

    A group of German Bundestag deputies had been due to visit the Incirlik air base on May 15, but a day before the scheduled visit they were informed they didn't have permission from the Turkish authorities.

    Ankara's decision was a response to news earlier this month that some Turkish soldiers who applied for asylum in Germany following last July's failed military putsch hadhad their applications approved. 

    Hundreds of diplomats and soldiers have applied for asylum in Germany amid a crackdown by Erdogan's government against alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen. Unofficial sources in the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees [BAMF] told Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, WDR and NDR news networks that the immigration authorities had been waiting for the result of the recent constitutional referendum before making their decision.

    Ankara's recent refusal is not the first time German deputies have been unable to visit Incirlik because of political differences. Last year Ralf Brauksiepe, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Defense, was also denied permission to visit the base after the German Bundestag passed a resolution that recognized the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

    Following the latest incident, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was "unacceptable" that the politicians hadn't been allowed to visit the base.

    "It is unreasonable to be afraid every time deputies want to go there," Merkel said, Der Spiegel reported.

    As a result of the dispute, Germany is considering moving its military contingent from Incirlik, where some German Tornado jets and aircraft tankers taking part in anti-Daesh operations are based. 

    Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who visited Jordan's Al Azraq air base last week, said that Jordan and Cyprus are possibilities. 

    "If they want to go, that's their business, and we aren't going to beg," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu retorted.

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    Tags:
    Incirlik Air Base, air base, German Bundestag, Bundeswehr, Ursula von der Leyen, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Germany, Turkey
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