BERLIN (Sputnik) – German-Turkish links were tested by the arrest, February 27, of Deniz Yucel, 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.
The situation worsened when German authorities banned pro-Erdogan demonstrations in Germany in the run-up to the referendum. Germany has a significant Turkish population which Erdogan was keen to ensure voted in favor of the controversial referendum.
The granting of asylum to NATO staff and their families is likely to cause diplomatic tensions between Berlin and Ankara.
"This is challenging. And we have let them know via various channels. We shall continue negotiations, but simultaneously we shall observe the implementation of what is already in this mandate, because we had difficulties with visits already. This means seeking an alternative to Incirlik, Jordan, among others, is a possible alternative for example," Merkel told reporters.
The government spokesman added that Berlin would continue its efforts toward arranging the visit and did not comment on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's plans to visit the base in the near future.
In 2016, Berlin prolonged until the end of 2017 the deployment of six Tornado jets and hundreds of German personnel at the airbase despite strained relations between the two countries. German-Turkish relations deteriorated after the German parliament’s decision in June to label the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. Following this decision, Ankara restricted a delegation of German lawmakers from accessing the air base in June 2016. Nonetheless, in October, Turkey allowed the delegation to visit the base.
In November 2016, German media reported that military officials have traveled to Jordan’s capital Amman to investigate a possible relocation of Tornado spy jets from southern Turkey.
The Turkish Incirlik air base stations hundreds of German personnel and several Tornado jets to carry out airstrikes against the the Islamic State terror group (banned in Russia) in Iraq and Syria alongside the United States and several other NATO member states.