German MPs visit Turkish base after ban lifted

Ankara had barred the group from visiting the Incirlik base in southern Turkey after the Bundestag voted in June to recognise the Ottoman Empire's World War I-era massacre of Armenians as a genocide.

German MPs visit Turkish base after ban lifted

World Bulletin / News Desk

Seven German lawmakers arrived at a Turkish airbase close to Syria on Wednesday to inspect German troops in a highly sensitive visit held up for months by a diplomatic row.

The lawmakers landed at the base on Wednesday afternoon, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

After the vote President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded furiously, saying the 11 members of parliament with Turkish roots who voted for the bill should undergo "blood tests" to see "what kind of Turks they are".

Visas for the Incirlik delegation had been refused and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last month that the green light was given only after the German government clarified that the vote was "not legally binding".

Earlier in September German Chancellor Angela Merkel tried to heal the diplomatic rift between the NATO allies by saying that the Armenia resolution was a political statement.

More than 200 German soldiers are deployed at the Incirlik base as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State group in neighbouring Syria.

The delegation includes deputy chairman of the German parliament's defence committee Karl Lamers, two other lawmakers from Merkel's ruling party, two from their SPD coalition partners and one each from the leftist Die Linke and the Greens. 

On Tuesday, they visited the parliament in Ankara which has become a symbol of the events of the failed July 15 coup when a rogue military faction tried to take power from Erdogan. The country's parliament was attacked from the air during the coup attempt.

Incirlik, a hub for anti-IS operations and also used by American forces, was raided by the authorities after being used by rebel officers in the coup plot.

The German MPs held two hours of "extremely open and friendly" talks with the Turkish parliament's defence committee earlier in the day, Lamers told reporters in the capital on Tuesday evening. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Ekim 2016, 16:29