Turkey, After NATO Mediation, Allows German Lawmakers To Visit Troops

German troops, NATO, visit, Turkey
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, (R), meets with soldiers during a visit.

After months of quarrel, Ankara finally agreed to allow German lawmakers to visit German troops at a base in the central province of Konya in early September as part of a NATO trip.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a letter sent to Germany’s parliamentary defense committee that Turkey accepted a NATO proposal for the visit to an air base in Konya on Sept. 8. German air force servicemen are stationed at the base as part of a NATO mission.

According to the scheme, NATO’s Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller will be able to take up to seven members of German parliamentary defense committee with her for the trip.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu assented to the proposal.

Though the resolution of the row through NATO intermediation is not an ideal, full-fledged solution that German officials sought, it is still an important step at least to defuse tension between Turkey and Germany.

Turkey’s avowed rejection of German demand to visit troops at Incirlik Air Base wound up in the pullout of German forces for relocation to Jordan in June.

“This is in our interest,” Wolfgang Hellmich, chairman of the parliamentary defense committee said.” “This is an important step in making it clear to NATO that the right to visit is indispensable.”

The months-long standoff over visiting German troops in Turkey reflects only one small component of a wider spat between two NATO allies. Turkey’s arrest of a German national in a crackdown on Amnesty International members in Istanbul last month escalated the row.

Germany threatened to reconsider business investment in Turkey and warned its citizens against traveling to Turkey. On Monday, EU Budget Commissioner Gunther Oettinger told German media that EU would halt pre-accession aid to Turkey due to crackdown on opponents in the country.