Turkey’s refusal to let German lawmakers visit a base where Germany has six fighter jets could lead to their being moved to Cyprus.
Der Spiegel magazine said Berlin isn’t happy with Turkey’s intransigence over the issue and views Cyprus as an alternative base from which to help with US-led attacks on ISIS in the Middle East.
The magazine said the German Bundeswehr was evaluating whether it could move the warplanes and refueling aircraft, Reuters said.
The magazine quoted unnamed military sources as saying such a move would interrupt the reconnaissance flights for at least two months.
The German Defense Ministry gave no details about its plans. “We would like to continue the mission from Turkey, but there are alternatives to the base in Incirlik,” the magazine quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.
The Social Democrats, junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, are now insisting that Germany should withdraw its aircraft and troops from the base given Turkey’s refusal to allow German lawmakers to visit the base.
“The German government must immediately find other bases for the German soldiers,” the magazine quoted Rainer Arnold, defense spokesman for the Social Democrats in parliament, as saying.
Turkey is angry that the German Parliament in June that branded the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces as a “genocide,” has denied German lawmakers access to the base although both countries belong to NATO.
Without German participation, the NATO mission would be difficult to execute, the magazine reported, noting that all 16 of NATO’s AWACS jets are based in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and a third of all crews are German soldiers.