Bundestag rejects leaving İncirlik, while Turkey stays indifferent


Germany's conservative-left coalition government Thursday rejected a motion filed by opposition parties to "immediately" withdraw German troops from İncirlik Air Base, amid political tensions between Berlin and Ankara.

The joint motion filed by the Socialist Left Party and the environmentalist Green Party was rejected by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and their coalition partner the Social Democratic Party (SPD) after a heated debate in parliament.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday that Ankara would not beg if Berlin decided to leave Incirlik. "It is up to them, we will not beg them," Çavuşoğlu said, accusing the German government of trying to patronize Turkey on the issue. "We are telling Germany that they cannot treat Turkey as they wish, Turkey will not accept hypocrisy," he added.

Senior Christian Democrat lawmaker Roderich Kiesewetter criticized Turkey for refusing demands by German lawmakers to visit İncirlik Air Base but warned against making a hasty decision.

"A unilateral and immediate withdrawal of German troops is neither in the interest of Europe, nor in the interest of Germany," he told lawmakers ahead of the vote on Thursday night. Kiesewetter urged lawmakers to wait for the outcome of discussions at next week's NATO summit as well as ongoing talks with Jordan for the potential relocation of German troops there.

At the suggestion of Christian Democrats and the Social Democratic Party, the majority of lawmakers voted in favor of submitting the motion to the Foreign Affairs Committee for further deliberation.

The rejection of the motion filed by the Left Party and the Green Party is interpreted as gaining time ahead of the bilateral meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Merkel in Brussels at the NATO summit.

Merkel is expected to request that German lawmakers be granted the permanent right to visit the air base whenever they want and Erdoğan's reaction to Merkel's request will reportedly be decisive in the future of German troops stationed at İncirlik.

The İncirlik crisis started on Monday after it was revealed that a parliamentary delegation was not allowed to visit the air base for several reasons. After news reports about the ban surfaced, the German government threatened to pull out from İncirlik. Berlin has been hinting at the possibility of moving personnel to Amman, Jordan.

Germany has repeatedly underlined the importance of such visits, saying the German army was not under the control of the government but rather parliament.

The two countries went through the same crisis almost a year ago. A German parliamentary defense commission delegation was not allowed to pay a visit to the İncirlik Air Base after the Bundestag adopted a resolution regarding the Armenian events of 1915. Federal Parliament approved a controversial motion labeling the 1915 events as "genocide."

The crisis was solved months later after Von der Leyen was allowed to visit the air base with a German delegation.

Since 2015, around 260 German troops, six high-tech Tornado surveillance jets and a tanker aircraft have been stationed at İncirlik Air Base, providing support for anti-Daesh operations.

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