Turkish Foreign Minister Says Germany Can Leave Airbase

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2015 file photo Turkish, right, and German, left, airmen stand in front of fighter jets after the U. S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey. (AP Photo)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s foreign minister says his country won’t beg Germany to stay at the Incirlik airbase.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told private NTV that Turkey opened up the airbase to Germany as part of the international coalition’s operations against the Islamic State group. “If they want to leave, that’s up to them and we won’t beg,” he said.

The minister’s comments come amid rising tensions between the two NATO allies. Turkey blocked a visit by German lawmakers to some 270 troops stationed at Incirlik, prompting Germany to consider moving aircraft to Jordan or Cyprus.

Cavusoglu criticized Germany for preventing him and other Turkish ministers from holding rallies in the country before the April 16 referendum on expanding presidential powers.

“If what we are doing is blackmail, then what was that?” he said.