German MPs to visit base after Turkey lifts ban
AFP/DPA/The Local · 4 Oct 2016, 09:05
Published: 04 Oct 2016 09:05 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Oct 2016 09:05 GMT+02:00
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The German parliament in June joined more than 20 countries in recognizing the Ottoman Empire's First World War-era massacre of Armenians as a genocide, prompting fury from Ankara.
Turkey promptly banned German lawmakers from visiting the Incirlik base in southern Turkey, where Germany has around 240 troops as part of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group across the border in Syria.
A furious President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also accused German lawmakers of Turkish origin who voted in favour of the resolution of having "tainted blood".
Ankara gave the green light last month for the visit to go ahead only after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government clarified publicly that the Armenia resolution was "not legally binding".
"Six German MPs will visit Incirlik air base on Wednesday," the official said Monday on condition of anonymity.
Still, Deputy Chairman of German parliament's Defence Committee Karl Lamers defended the resolution ahead of the visit.
"The Bundestag [German parliament] of course has the right to express its views on important issues," Lamers told DPA. Lamers is also leading the delegation to the base.
"This is what we did and this is what we stand by."
Armenians say up to 1.5 million were killed between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart.
Turkey rejects the claims, arguing that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops.