05:40 GMT23 April 2021
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    Berlin is unlikely to give a green light to more reconnaissance flights over Syria from the Turkish territory in light of Ankara’s resistance to allow a German Bundestag delegation to visit German soldiers at the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, Rainer Arnold, a German lawmaker from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) The statement was made after Turkey barred in June German lawmakers from visiting the base and German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to settle the issue during her meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw on Saturday.

    "It is strange that the Chancellor in this situation sought a mandate on sending AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System] jets for securing Turkish airspace at the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Because the Parliament makes decision on such a mandate. And it is more than questionable whether we would vote for that under current circumstances," Arnold, who is a member of the Bundestag Defense Committee and the defense policy spokesman of the SPD parliamentary group, warned.

    Germany has about 250 soldiers stationed at the Incirlik base who help fly planes on reconnaissance missions to locate the Islamic State fighters in Syria. But following numerous refusals by Turkey to let German lawmakers visit the soldiers, many Bundestag members from different political factions said that military personnel should return home and promised to block the AWACS reconnaissance flights that NATO wants to fly over Syria.

    Turkey said the country permits only military or technical teams to visit military installations. German media link Ankara's refusal to the resolution passed in Berlin in early June which recognized the Ottoman massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-1916 as genocide.

    "The Turkish government must correct its position. Otherwise prolongation of stationing of the aerial vehicles in Incirlik is unthinkable," Arnold said.

    Since all of Germany's military missions need parliamentary approval, the Bundestag regularly sends members of its defense committee to visit field operations, check working conditions and observe the military cooperation with allies.

    "When a NATO member state cuts an indefeasible right of another NATO member state, that cannot remain without consequences," the lawmaker stressed.

    NATO officials do not announce the number of the AWACS aircraft that are deployed in Turkey. According to independent defense experts' estimates, there are some 2,000 military personnel from 16 countries including Turkey serving in NATO AWACS division.


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