German FM in Turkey to defuse brewing diplomatic crisis

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-05 22:59:25|Editor: Mengjie
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German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel speaks during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart (Unseen) in Ankara, Turkey, on June 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Qin Yanyang)

BERLIN, June 5 (Xinhua) -- German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) is meeting his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on Monday for emergency talks regarding a dispute over the stationing of German troops and aircraft at the Turkish military base of Incirlik.

Ankara had recently sparked outrage in Germany by refusing to allow members of the German Federal Parliament to visit German troops based in Turkey from where they have been participating in an international effort to combat the terrorist organization known as the "Islamic State".

The Turkish government is resentful that Berlin has granted political asylum to Turkish soldiers whom it accuses of involvement in what it describes as a failed military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Gabriel's trip is a last-ditch attempt to persuade Turkey to accept the visiting rights of German parliamentarians and thus prevent the impending transfer of German military units from Incirlik to a new base in Jordan.

Erdogan appeared unperturbed by the development, stating Turkey would "simply say goodbye" should the troops in question be moved.

Gabriel warned that Germany and Turkey must avoid "loosing each other entirely". Both he and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim expressed a desire to normalize relations between the two countries ahead of the trip.

The conflict over German troops in Incirlik is only the most recent episode in a longer spate between the NATO allies Berlin and Ankara which can be traced to a failed military coup in Turkey against President Erdogan in July 2016.

The events were followed by a controversial constitutional referendum which granted the Turkish office of president far-reaching additional powers.

Ankara has since accused Berlin of lukewarm support in the face of domestic rebellion.

Tensions escalated further when politicians in Germany and throughout Europe rebuked senior Turkish officials who sought to campaign abroad among Turkish migrant communities for the constitutional referendum on April 16 2017.

Foreign Minister Gabriel may also meet for discussions with President Erdogan and Prime Minister Yildrim in the course of his visit.

KEY WORDS: Germany-Turkey