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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Ankara to discuss air base visit row

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (L) is greeted by his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, before their meeting in Ankara on June 5, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Germany’s foreign minister is in Turkey for talks on a row between the two NATO allies over Ankara’s refusal to allow German lawmakers visit the troops stationed at a Turkish air base.
On Monday, Sigmar Gabriel met with his Turkish opposite number, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara to dicuss bilateral issues and press Ankara to let German MPs visit the Incirlik air base, where Berlin has deployed over 250 troops.
Ahead of his trip, Gabriel told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that “if Turkey cannot or does not want to [allow the visit] for domestic political reasons,” then the two sides should find a peaceful way to end the deployment.
“German lawmakers must be able to visit soldiers - and not just once but anytime,” added the top diplomat.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also said prior to Gabriel’s visit that Turkey wanted to fix relations, but “Germany should move accordingly.”
The diplomatic row broke out between Berlin and Ankara in mid-May, when Berlin announced that Ankara had blocked a request for German legislators to visit the troops deployed to Incirlik as part of a US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the time slammed the Turkish government’s decision and described the move as “unacceptable.”
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen talks with German soldiers during a visit to Turkey's air base in Incirlik on January 21, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Turkey made the decision in response to Berlin’s move to grant asylum to Turkish military personnel, whom Ankara accused of participating in a failed coup to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.
Berlin announced last month that it would decide by mid-June to whether pull out its troops from the country.
Analysts say troops withdrawal could worsen relations between the two NATO member states.
Another row erupted earlier this year between Turkey and Germany when Berlin blocked planned campaign rallies by Turkish ministers to secure a ‘Yes’ vote in the April 16 referendum on expanding Erdogan’s powers
Ankara-Berlin relations began to sour in early 2016, after the German parliament passed a resolution naming the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 “genocide.”Ankara vehemently opposes the term.
In a tit-for-tat move, Turkey blocked lawmakers from visiting Incirlik, only later to allow the trip.

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