Turkey blocks German visit to own soldiers on air base
German media reported on Wednesday that an official visit to German soldiers stationed in Turkey has been blocked by the Turkish government due to an ongoing row about the Armenian genocide.
German parliamentary state secretary to the defence ministry, Ralf Brauksiepe, was supposed to visit the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, which is home to US, Turkish and German reconnaissance jets, according to Spiegel and Bild.
Brauksiepe had wanted to visit the base in the middle of July, along with other Bundestag representatives, to learn more about the German reconnaissance work in the fight against terror group Isis and was also supposed to visit stations in northern Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, Spiegel wrote.
But now the trip will take place without the stop in Turkey.
Spiegel reports that German Lieutenant General Dieter Warnecke said behind closed doors that the reason for the ban was ongoing tensions between the Bundesrepublik and Turkey after the German parliament (Bundestag) passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide.
Bild also reported that a representative of the German Defence Ministry said the resolution was the reason for the ban.
The tabloid wrote that the defence ministry had been told by the Turkish foreign ministry that only “technical and military personnel” could visit the base, not parliamentary members.
Germany is also planning with Turkey to expand the facilities on the base for its own forces there.
“If Turkey denies a visit to troops by our parliamentarians, then the German military should not invest any tax revenue into the expansion of the base,” Green party defence expert Tobias Lindner told Bild.
Immediately after the Bundestag passed the Armenian genocide resolution earlier this month, Ankara recalled their envoy to Berlin and exchanges have continued to be heated in the weeks that followed.
Turkey rejects the term genocide to classify the killing of Armenians starting in 1915, when most Western historians say Ottoman forces systematically massacred up to 1.5 million Armenians.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted German MPs with Turkish roots who backed the resolution, saying they supported "terrorism" by the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and demanded that they undergo "blood tests" to see "what kind of Turks they are".
MPs also received death threats and were placed under police protection.