German Govt Approves Withdrawal of Troops from Incirlik Base in Turkey
TEHRAN(Tasnim) - The German cabinet has given the green light to withdraw the nation’s troops from Incirlik Airbase in Turkey, dpa news agency reports. The parliament is yet to approve the end of the deployment.
The move comes after Berlin failed to negotiate a resolution to ongoing tensions with Ankara, which was obstructing inspections of the Turkish base by German MPs. Parliamentary oversight over foreign deployment of German troops is strongly endorsed in the country’s law, RT reported.
“Incirlik is a good airbase for the fight against Daesh (also known as ISIL or ISIS) but we cannot accept not being able to visit our soldiers,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday, as cited by Deutsche Welle.
Some 280 troops and several Tornado fighter jets, which are used for reconnaissance missions in Syria, are currently stationed at Incirlik.
The Turkish deployment was approved by the German parliament in 2016 in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris in December 2015.
The six German fighter jets, a tanker plane serving them and the military personnel are expected to be transferred from Turkey to Jordan. The process may take two or three months after the Bundestag approves the suggested redeployment.
“Above all, we should organize the withdrawal so that there is no megaphone diplomacy where we trade insults,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Deutschland funk radio on Tuesday. “We have no interest in pushing Turkey into a corner.”
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Monday Germany can “remove its troops however it wants.”
“There is no decision we have taken on this. They can have it their own way,” he told reporters.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier in May that the military bloc would not take sides in the spat between its members.
“It has no effect on NATO activities,” he said. “The dispute is a bilateral issue between Turkey and Germany.”
Issues fueling the tension between Germany and Turkey include Berlin’s criticism of Turkey’s crackdown on alleged anti-government activists in the wake of a failed military coup last year. Turkey accuses US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the plot and says it needs to root out a network of his supporters in the country to ensure safety.
Berlin criticized the crackdown, which resulted in some 50,000 arrests and sacking or suspension of some 150,000 officials, including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, suspected of being Gulen sympathizers. Ankara also targeted journalists, academicians, judges and other key figures in the country in what Germany sees as a major step away from democracy. Germany gave political asylum to several Turkish military personnel and their family members, who were stationed at NATO facilities in Germany and faced prosecution in their home country.
Another major bone of contention is some actions by EU member countries’ authorities in the wake of a referendum in Turkey, which gave its president in April new sweeping powers. Turkish officials had been blocked from campaigning in Germany and several other European nations, where a large number of Turkish citizens live and work, prompting anger from Ankara.