Germany to pull troops from Turkish base in spat with Ankara

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German soldiers arriving at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in 2015.

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's Foreign Minister visited Turkey on Monday in a last attempt to reestablish the diplomatic relationship between the two nations in order to avoid the pullout of German troops, but said that Turkey had refused once again due to "domestic political reasons". "We are ready for a transfer", she said, adding that a "comparable alternative" had been identified at the Azraq air base in Jordan and that King Abdullah supported the move.

"Incirlik is a good air base for the fight against Islamic State, but we can not accept not being able to visit our soldiers", she said on Monday, adding that an alternative had been identified in Jordan's Azraq air base.

The scandal erupted last Thursday, when Turkey's foreign minister said it is not possible to allow German lawmakers to visit troops stationed at Turkey's Incirlik air base now, although he said Ankara may reconsider if it sees "positive steps" from Berlin.

German parliament will vote on the decision later this month.

Germany has about 270 troops stationed at Incirlik, near the Syrian border, with Tornado reconnaissance aircraft that support the worldwide anti-Islamic State mission, and a refuelling plane.

"We have a huge range of common interests with Turkey and also close economic relations so discussions are very necessary", she said, also pointing to the migrant crisis.

"They can't break down these relations because Turkey... needs Europe, and one of the locomotives in Europe is Germany right now", the expert said, adding that Germany and Turkey are also important partners in terms of trade. That snub seemed to be a tit-for-tat result of Angela Merkel's refusal to extradite Turkish citizens in Germany who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing of being supporters of last year's attempted coup.

Germany, meanwhile, has been asking release of Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German journalist who was arrested in February, yet Turkish authorities claim that he was not arrested because of his journalistic work, "but because of his links with terror organizations". Germany reportedly has refused to a proposal by President Erdogan to host next year's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Istanbul.

Over the weekend we talked about the rising tensions between Germany and Turkey and the implications that could have for European military agreements in the region.

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