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Turkey OKs German deputies’ visit to NATO base in Konya

8 August 2017 19:58 (UTC+04:00)
Turkey OKs German deputies’ visit to NATO base in Konya

By Ali Mustafayev

Ankara has approved the visit of German lawmakers to a NATO base located in Turkey's Konya province.

The visit to the Konya base has been tentatively scheduled for September 8.

The visit would not be headed by the Bundestag, but rather by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller will accompany the delegation to the base, where a meeting with German soldiers will be conducted, local media reported on August 8.

In mid-July, Turkey banned the Bundestag Defense Committee from conducting a visit to the NATO military base in Konya, where German military personnel are stationed.

The decision caused anxiety in Europe and NATO, in particular. NATO was concerned about tensions between Turkey and Germany since the Incirlik conflict with the following withdrawal of German military forces from this base.

Later, the official representative of Germany Steffen Seibert announced that during the negotiations regarding visit to the military base in Konya, Turkey asked to reschedule the visit of the deputies of Defense Committee, which was planned to be held on July 17.

Also in July, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg unveiled a proposal to arrange a German delegation's visit within the alliance's framework.

The ties between two NATO allies have been strained since the failed coup in Turkey last July, and tensions have worsened over multiple issues including a referendum campaign to expand Turkish President's powers. German authorities banned some Turkish ministers from campaigning for ethnic Turk votes in Germany during the April referendum.

The relations deteriorated further after Ankara blocked a group of German lawmakers from visiting the servicemen at the Incirlik Air Base. Berlin decided to withdraw its refueling and reconnaissance aircraft from Turkey's Incirlik base to Azraq, Jordan.

However, the latest decision may be a first step in future normalizing of relations between the two countries.

Turkey remains the key NATO member country in the Middle East. The Incirlik Air Base is one of the main bases of the United States and the alliance in the region. Aircrafts of the countries of the international coalition led by the United States, which participates in air operations against ISIS, are based here.

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