GERMAN forces will leave Turkey’s Incirlik air base, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel confirmed yesterday.
Turkey has barred German MPs from visiting the base since last year’s failed military coup, complaining that Berlin has granted asylum to soldiers it accuses of the putsch.
Talks between Mr Gabriel and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu broke down on Monday.
Incirlik houses 270 German air force personel operating reconnaissance jets over Syria and Iraq as well as housing US nuclear weapons and being used as the launchpad for US air strikes.
Mr Cavosoglu told Mr Gabriel MPs could visit the Nato base at Konya but not Incirlik until Berlin took “positive steps” on Turkey’s requests to crack down on Kurdish rebels and alleged coup plotters.
“Above all we should organise the withdrawal so that there is no megaphone diplomacy where we trade insults,” Mr Gabriel told Deutschlandfunk radio yesterday.
“We have no interest in pushing Turkey into a corner … we don’t want to push it towards Russia,” he said. “This is no small thing but it is about more than Incirlik, it’s about our relationship with Turkey.”
Mr Gabriel said Mr Cavusoglu had asked for closer ties with the EU — which Ankara aspires to join — but Berlin demanded greater Turkish aderence to the rule of law.
“Turkey wants an expansion of the customs union. We say we are ready for that … but you have to move too,” he said.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday the cabinet would meet today to decide where the Incirlik force would be redeployed.
She recently visited a possible alternative base at Azraq in Jordan, which has reportedly agreed to host the forces.