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Germany slams Turkey's refusal to let lawmakers visit Incirlik

A Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands at Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, August 11, 2015. (Photo by Reuters)
Berlin has condemned Ankara’s refusal to grant permission to German lawmakers to visit their country's soldiers serving in a NATO mission at a Turkish airbase.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's top spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday described as "unacceptable" Ankara's ban on a visit by the German Parliament's defense committee to Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.
The spokesman also warned that Germany could move its troops elsewhere, saying that Berlin would now "look into alternative locations" for its military personnel.
Germany has more than 250 troops deployed to Incirlik, using the airbase for flying Tornado jets over Syria and refueling flights as part of the US-led coalition allegedly battling the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen meets with soldiers during a visit of the German armed forces at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, January 21, 2016. (Photo by AP)
Speaking at a news conference in the day, Merkel also reiterated the need for German lawmakers to be able to visit the soldiers serving at the Turkish airbase.
"We will continue to talk with Turkey, but in parallel we will have to explore other ways of fulfilling our mandate, that means looking at alternatives to Incirlik, and one alternative among others is Jordan," she said.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen recently said that Berlin hoped to invest 58 million euros (USD 65 million) in mobile barracks and other facilities in Incirlik.
German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer suggested that Turkey’s Monday rejection of the visit was tied to Berlin's decision to grant asylum to Turkish soldiers accused by Ankara of participating in last year's failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
German media have reported that over 400 Turkish military personnel, diplomats, judges and other officials and their relatives had sought political asylum in Germany.
Additionally, relations between Ankara and Berlin soured in June, when the German Parliament passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian “genocide” at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I.
Armenia says up to 1.5 million of its nationals were killed between 1915 and 1917 as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, but Turkey argues that it was a collective tragedy, during which 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks lost their lives.

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