NATO chief urges Ger­man, Turk­ish FMs to re­solve rift

Air base row

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BRUS­SELS, July 17, (Agen­cies): NATO’s Sec­re­tary Gen­eral spoke to the Turk­ish and Ger­man for­eign min­is­ters last week to urge them to re­solve their dif­fer­ences over vis­its to Turk­ish air bases, part of a wider row be­tween the two al­lies.

Ger­many has re­fused to ex­tra­dite asy­lum seek­ers Tur­key says were in­volved in last year’s coup at­tempt, Ber­lin is de­mand­ing the re­lease of a Turk­ish-Ger­man jour­nal­ist and Ankara has re­fused to let Ger­man law­mak­ers visit sol­diers at two air bases.

Ger­man sol­diers con­trib­ute to a NATO air sur­veil­lance mis­sion at Konya, 250 kms (155 miles) south of the Turk­ish cap­i­tal Ankara, and its troops sta­tioned at an­other air base, in In­cir­lik, have al­ready been moved to Jor­dan.

NATO said Jens Stoltenberg had called Sig­mar Gabriel and Mev­lut Cavu­soglu on Fri­day to ask them to set­tle the dis­putes. “We hope that Ger­many and Tur­key are able to find a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able date for a visit,” a NATO spokesman said.

Ger­many’s armed forces are un­der par­lia­men­tary con­trol and Ber­lin says the law­mak­ers must have ac­cess to its sol­diers.

Mean­while, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel says a dis­pute with Tur­key over a visit by law­mak­ers to air crews at a NATO base is “de­cid­edly un­for­tu­nate” and Ber­lin will work with NATO to defuse it. Ankara blocked a visit planned Mon­day to Ger­man troops serv­ing on AWACS sur­veil­lance planes in Konya. It asked for a de­lay, cit­ing the tense state of Ger­man-Turk­ish bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

Ger­many is mov­ing air­craft sta­tioned on a bi­lat­eral ba­sis at Tur­key’s In­cir­lik base af­ter a dis­pute over law­maker vis­its there. Some law­mak­ers are urg­ing a with­drawal from Konya if Ankara doesn’t re­lent.

Merkel told ARD tele­vi­sion Sun­day: “Be­fore we draw con­clu­sions, we should first wait for talks and dis­cuss these things with NATO’s help.” She made clear Ger­many would re­ject any de­mands linked to asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions by Turks.

Stoltenberg

Tur­key must stick to demo­cratic val­ues:

Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Sun­day urged Tur­key to up­hold demo­cratic val­ues if it hopes to join the Euro­pean Union, af­ter a year of purges fol­low­ing a coup bid.

Juncker’s com­ments came a day af­ter Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cept Tayyip Er­do­gan gave a hard­line speech to par­lia­ment on the an­niver­sary of the at­tempted coup, fol­low­ing mass ral­lies in Ankara and Is­tan­bul.

“Who­ever wants to join the Euro­pean Union is join­ing a union of val­ues,” Juncker wrote in an op-ed for Ger­man weekly Bild Son­ntag.

“Europe’s hand re­mains out­stretched,” he added, but it ex­pects that “Tur­key too should clearly show its Euro­pean colours and em­phat­i­cally take ba­sic Euro­pean val­ues to heart.”

In his speech, Er­do­gan vowed to sign any bill law­mak­ers pass on rein­tro­duc­ing the death penalty — seen as a red line that would shut down Tur­key’s hopes of join­ing the EU.

“We will chop off the heads of those traitors” he told a crowd of hun­dreds of thou­sands in Is­tan­bul.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is in charge of ac­ces­sion ne­go­ti­a­tions for prospec­tive new mem­bers, with Tur­key’s dossier largely frozen since last July’s vi­o­lence.

In his ar­ti­cle, Juncker warned in par­tic­u­lar against the de­ten­tion without trial of jour­nal­ists in­clud­ing Deniz Yu­cel of Ger­man daily Die Welt.

This was “in no way com­pat­i­ble with a union of hu­man rights, press free­dom and the rule of law,” he said.

Fol­low­ing last year’s coup bid, Er­do­gan em­barked on the big­gest purge in Tur­key’s history, ar­rest­ing 50,000 peo­ple and sack­ing al­most three times as many.

He also shored up his po­si­tion by win­ning a ref­er­en­dum on en­hanc­ing his pow­ers ear­lier this year.

Turk­ish govt seeks ex­ten­sion of emer­gency:

The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment asked par­lia­ment on Mon­day to ex­tend emer­gency rule for an­other three months, al­most a year af­ter it was im­posed in the wake of last July’s failed mil­i­tary coup.

The re­quest is ex­pected to be ap­proved by par­lia­ment, where Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan’s AK Party has a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity. It fol­lowed week­end cer­e­monies to mark the an­niver­sary of the abortive coup in which around 250 peo­ple were killed.

Since emer­gency rule was im­posed on July 20 last year, more than 50,000 peo­ple have been ar­rested and 150,000 peo­ple have been sus­pended in a crack­down which Er­do­gan’s op­po­nents say has pushed Tur­key on a path to greater au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism.

The gov­ern­ment says the purge is nec­es­sary to con­front se­cu­rity chal­lenges fac­ing Tur­key and to root out sup­port­ers of the US-based cleric Fethul­lah Gulen who it says was be­hind the coup at­tempt. Gulen has de­nied any in­volve­ment.

In a se­ries of public cer­e­monies to mourn peo­ple killed in the coup at­tempt and cel­e­brate those who thwarted it, Er­do­gan de­fi­antly stepped up his con­dem­na­tion of the Euro­pean Union and said he would bring back the death penalty if par­lia­ment ap­proved it.

Ties with the West were strained when Euro­pean gov­ern­ments voiced alarm at the scale of the crack­down, which con­tin­ues. An­other 7,000 po­lice, civil ser­vants and aca­demics were dis­missed last week ac­cord­ing to a de­cree pub­lished on Fri­day.

A state­ment from Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim’s of­fice said the cab­i­net re­quested that par­lia­ment ex­tend emer­gency rule by three months from Wed­nes­day.

Tur­key de­tains 115 more peo­ple:

TTurk­ish au­thor­i­ties have or­dered the de­ten­tion of 127 peo­ple on sus­pi­cion of links to the at­tempted mil­i­tary coup a year ago, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

In a re­port late on Sun­day, Anadolu said 115 of the sus­pects in­clud­ing busi­ness­men, mid­wives and jour­nal­ists had so far been de­tained in oper­a­tions in the north­west­ern prov­ince of Tekirdag. It said the re­main­ing sus­pects were be­ing sought by po­lice.

The sus­pects were be­lieved to be users of ByLock, an en­crypted mes­sag­ing app the gov­ern­ment says was used by the net­work of US-based cleric Fethul­lah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for or­ches­trat­ing the abortive coup, Anadolu said. Gulen has de­nied in­volve­ment in the at­tempted mil­i­tary takeover.

In the af­ter­math of the putsch, some 150,000 peo­ple have been sacked or sus­pended from jobs in the civil ser­vice and pri­vate sec­tor and more than 50,000 were de­tained for al­leged links to the putsch, alarm­ing Tur­key’s West­ern al­lies and rights groups, who say Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan is us­ing the coup as a pre­text to muz­zle dis­sent.

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