ISTANBUL Oct 5 A delegation of German lawmakers
visited Incirlik air base in southern Turkey on Wednesday,
state-run Anadolu Agency said, defusing a months-long row that
had prevented them meeting troops serving in the coalition
against Islamic State.
Turkey in June barred the politicians from the base, where
about 200 German troops are stationed, in response to a
resolution in the German parliament declaring the 1915 massacre
of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide.
In July, Turkey briefly grounded coalition airplanes at
Incirlik after an abortive military coup and amid concerns that
rogue troops might try to flee the country from the base.
The U.S. Air Force has around 5,000 airmen at Incirlik,
which serves as a critical hub in the U.S.-led coalition trying
to defeat Islamic State over the borders in Syria and Iraq.
Chancellor Angela Merkel in September persuaded President
Tayyip Erdogan to allow the parliamentarians to visit. Their
trip is taking place with little publicity, with Anadolu saying
it was closed to the press.
The NATO allies have crossed swords in recent months over
the flow of migrants to Europe through Turkey and German
criticism of the response to the coup attempt, which has
included a purge of security and civil service personnel and the
arrests of more than 30,000 people.
German prosecutors said on Tuesday they had dropped an
investigation of a comedian who was accused of offending a
foreign leader after reciting an obscene poem about Turkish
President Tayyip Erdogan on national television. Erdogan had
filed a complaint against the comedian, Jan Boehmermann.
The German Air Force has kept Tornado surveillance jets and
a refueling plane at Incirlik to contribute to the fight against
Islamic State. The German soldiers are at Incirlik to help
defend Turkish troops against possible attacks from Syria.
(Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley and Daren Butler; editing by