Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Tuesday reacted to a decision by Germany to withdraw its soldiers from İncirlik Airbase in southern Turkey, saying that they could act however they wish, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Following a visit to Ankara to reverse Turkey’s decision to block a visit by German lawmakers to German soldiers at İncirlik Airbase, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said his country would soon start the process of finding another location for its troops.
“We will have to move the troops out of İncirlik. The Bundeswehr cannot stay there,” Gabriel said after talks with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
“There is no decision made by us. However they [Germany] wish,” said Yıldırım in response Germany’s decision over the transfer of the German troops at İncirlik.
His remarks came during a speech at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) parliamentary group meeting.
In a similar development, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Tuesday voiced his support for the Turkish government’s decision to block the German lawmakers from visiting İncirlik.
At a joint press conference with Gabriel on Monday, Çavuşoğlu said Ankara would continue to block a delegation of German lawmakers from visiting the troops, adding that at the moment, a visit to the NATO base in Konya was possible.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday that the troops at İncirlik would be moved to a base in Jordan.
Germany has 260 troops and several Tornado aircraft flying reconnaissance missions for Western air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) based at Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase.
Tension between Germany and Turkey escalated over the arrest of two Turkish-German journalists on terrorism charges and Berlin’s decision to grant asylum to military officers and other diplomatic passport holders who Ankara accuses of involvement in a failed coup attempt on July 15.
The tension turned into a crisis when the Turkish government blocked a group of German lawmakers from visiting troops stationed at İncirlik on May 15.