Tur­key al­lows Ger­man MPs to visit troops: Berlin

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Berlin, Ger­many - Tur­key has agreed to let Ger­man law­mak­ers visit troops sta­tioned at a Turk­ish base next month, the Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter said in a let­ter seen on Tues­day, af­ter NATO stepped in to re­duce ten­sions over the hot-but­ton is­sue.

Up to seven MPs will be al­lowed to visit Konya air­field in cen­tral Tur­key on Septem­ber 8 as part of a NATO trip, For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel wrote in a let­ter to the Ger­man par­lia­men­tary de­fence com­mit­tee on Mon­day.

Ankara blocked a planned July visit by Ger­man MPs to Konya, where some 30 Ger­man sol­diers are sta­tioned, cit­ing the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing re­la­tion­ship with Berlin.

The long-sim­mer­ing row over MPs’ ac­cess to Ger­man troops on Turk­ish soil boiled over in June when Berlin pulled out 260 troops from Tur­key’s In­cir­lik base and re­lo­cated them to Jor­dan, af­ter Ankara re­peat­edly thwarted law­mak­ers’ ef­forts to visit. Ap­proval for the Konya visit came af­ter NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg of­fered to ar­range the trip for the Ger­man law­mak­ers within the de­fence al­liance's frame­work, to which Ankara agreed, ac­cord­ing to Gabriel.

Ger­man De­fence Min­is­ter Ur­sula von der Leyen told DPA news agency it was ‘a good so­lu­tion’. “We should fo­cus on fight­ing ter­ror­ism, which is also in Tur­key’s in­ter­est,” she said.

Ger­many is part of a multi­na­tional coali­tion fight­ing the Is­lamic State group, fly­ing sur­veil­lance mis­sions and re­fu­elling flights. But Ger­man par­lia­men­tar­ian Alexan­der Neu of the far-left Die Linke party ac­cused Berlin of ‘ca­pit­u­lat­ing’ to Ankara and said re­ly­ing on NATO to ar­range the Konya visit did not re­solve the dis­pute.

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