German MPs threaten to block military cooperation with Turkey

The row triggered by the German parliament’s Armenia resolution is rumbling on. Bundestag MPs have threatened to scupper NATO’s new reconnaissance flights if they cannot visit German soldiers at Incirlik, Turkey, Deutsche Welle reports.

The diplomatic impasse between German MPs and the Turkish government has escalated, with the Bundestag’s defense committee threatening to deny the mandate for Germany’s participation in reconnaissance flights over Syria if they are not allowed to visit the German soldiers stationed at the Incirlik NATO base in southern Turkey.

The Bundeswehr has about 250 personnel stationed at the base who help fly Tornado planes on reconnaissance missions to locate the “Islamic State” militia in Syria. But the Bundestag’s vote in early June to recognize the Ottoman massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-16 as genocide has precipitated a diplomatic fallout that is threatening the countries’ military cooperation.

On Thursday, committee chairman Wolfgang Hellmich told the “Bild” newspaper that the Bundestag could vote to block the AWACS reconnaissance flights that NATO wants to fly over Syria.

“I hope that the NATO secretary general realizes that if he wants to have AWACS, then German soldiers are necessary,” committee spokesman Rainer Arnold told DW.

Just two weeks after the vote on the Armenia resolution, which triggered personal abuse from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against certain MPs, Turkey refused to allow a senior German defense official and several Bundestag members to visit the base. The trip was “seen as inappropriate,” in the words of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu – though he suggested that a “nonpolitical” delegation would be allowed.

The Left party MP Alexander Neu said the committee was planning a trip to Incirlik on September 15 – which is now likely to be seen as a test of relations. The Defense Ministry was also hoping to sign a new stationing agreement with Turkey and build new barracks and a command post, all plans that are currently on hold because of the deadlock.

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