Germany's Merkel against hasty decision on Incirlik


Chancellor Angela Merkel has turned down Tuesday a request by her coalition partner Social Democrats to withdraw German soldiers from Turkey's Incirlik Air Base amid political tensions between the two countries.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Merkel said her Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) wanted to see the outcome of talks between German and Turkish foreign ministers before taking a decision on Incirlik.

"At the NATO summit we agreed to continue talks with Turkey," she said, referring to a meeting she had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the summit in Brussels last week.

"This is why the CDU/CSU parliamentary group is of the opinion that we ought to wait the outcome of talks between the foreign ministers," she said.

Turkey has been reluctant to give permission for German lawmakers to visit their soldiers stationed in Incirlik, due to controversial statements, mostly made by lawmakers from the socialist Die Linke party (The Left) who publicly announced their support to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, Germany and other NATO countries.

Merkel underlined that German lawmakers should have an access to their soldiers stationed abroad, as it was the parliament's task to control the armed forces, according to the constitution. But she warned against any rushed decisions.

"Of course, we need to take a decision in the upcoming weeks on how things will evolve. But now we ought to talk once again with the Turkish side," she said.

Ahead of parliamentary elections in September, Merkel's coalition partner Social Democratic Party (SPD) took a surprise decision and demanded withdrawing German soldiers from Incirlik, in protest to Turkey's stance.

"We are calling for troop withdrawal from Incirlik," Thomas Oppermann, a senior Social Democrat lawmaker told the Passauer Neue Presse daily.

"Now the defense minister should promptly provide clarification for the prospective stationing site," he said.

Since 2015, Germany has stationed six Tornado surveillance jets and a tanker aircraft at Incirlik, along with around 260 personnel, providing intelligence and logistics support for anti-Daesh operations.

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