Europe

Merkel mulls troop move to Jordan following Turkey row

A Turkish Air Force F-4 fighter jet flies over a minaret after it took off from Incirlik air base (12 August 2015) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The base at Incirlik is used to carry out operations against so-called Islamic State

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that German troops stationed at Incirlik in Turkey may be relocated because of a row between the two countries over access to the base.

Mrs Merkel described Turkey's decision not to allow a delegation of German legislators to visit German troops stationed at Incirlik as regrettable.

She said the troops may now be moved elsewhere, with Jordan a possibility.

Germany has about 250 troops stationed at the airbase in southern Turkey.

Relations between the two Nato allies have been strained for some time over a range of issues, including Germany's move to grant asylum to Turkish troops accused of a role in last year's failed coup.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Germany has several planes at the airbase, including Tornados

About 400 Turkish military staff, diplomats, members of the judiciary and other officials and their relatives had applied for political asylum in Germany, media reports say. It is not clear how many applications have been granted, although some reports say that numerous requests have been accepted.

Mrs Merkel said that she had made clear her government's unhappiness over Turkey's decision to bar several German politicians from visiting the soldiers at Incirlik. Germany has already had difficulties with previous visits to the airbase.

Can the Incirlik base swing the anti-IS fight? (Video)

"I can only repeat what I said when these difficulties first arose," she said. "The German army is a parliamentary army and so it's absolutely necessary that our MPs have opportunities to visit our soldiers."

Earlier a German foreign ministry spokesman described the decision by Turkey, a fellow Nato ally, as unacceptable.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (above) toured the base in January 2016
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mrs Merkel has been at loggerheads with her Turkish counterpart over a number of issues

The airbase is used by German troops and planes to carry out operations against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

The row over preliminary moves by Germany earlier this month to grant asylum to Turkish soldiers involved in last year's failed coup has been denounced by Turkey as actions unworthy of an ally. Turkey has urged Berlin to reconsider.

The two countries have been at loggerheads in recent years, failing to see eye-to-eye over civil rights, press freedom in Turkey and alleged Turkish persecution of its minority Kurdish population.

Read more on the row:

Germany remains concerned at the detention of German-Turkish Die Welt journalist Deniz Yucel.

Last year's German parliamentary vote to label as genocide the 1915 killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks also soured the mood.

Relations have not been helped by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's likening of German officials to Nazis and Germany's cancellation of rallies among ethnic Turks before last month's referendum on greater powers for Mr Erdogan.

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