German lawmakers mull Turkish air base use after delegation blocked

German lawmakers were calling on the Bundeswehr to rethink its use of Turkey's Incirlik airbase on Thursday after Ankara blocked a German parliamentary delegation from visiting troops there, escalating an ongoing diplomatic row.

Germany has around 250 troops and several Tornado jets stationed at the base, a strategically important site in southern Turkey for the US-led air campaign against the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria.

Germany's Defence Ministry confirmed late Wednesday that Ankara had denied access to a lawmaker delegation planning to visit the base in July.

"We must consider alternative locations for our Tornado reconnaissance jets, such as the airbase in Amman, in order not to limit our military flexibility," Florian Hahn, lawmaker for the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), told dpa.

"If Turkey blocks our lawmakers from visiting troops at Incirlik, the Bundeswehr should stop investing taxpayers' money in the expansion of the base," Tobias Lindner, a lawmaker for the Greens, told top-selling daily newspaper Bild.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that "the visit of non-military delegations and especially of politicians to the Incirlik base is not seen as suitable."

Relations have been strained between Turkey and Germany for several months, weighed down by negotiations over a controversial EU-Turkey migration deal and two German media broadcasts that poked fun or insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ties between Berlin and Ankara hit a new low earlier this month when the Bundestag unanimously voted to label the 1915-1916 mass killings of Armenians by the Ottomans as genocide.

Successive Turkish governments have vehemently rejected the use of the term genocide to describe the mass expulsion and killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, of which Turkey is the successor state.

Last update: Thu, 23/06/2016 - 14:26
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