May 30, 2017 / 3:46 PM / 5 months ago

Still not possible to open Incirlik base to Germany: Turkey minister

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday it is not possible to allow German lawmakers to visit troops stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base now, although Ankara might reconsider if it saw “positive steps” from Berlin.

FILE PHOTO: German Tornado jets are pictured on the ground at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz/Pool

Mevlut Cavusoglu also said the issue would be discussed with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is due to visit Turkey on Monday. Ties between the NATO allies deteriorated sharply in the run-up to Turkey’s April 16 referendum that handed President Tayyip Erdogan stronger presidential powers.

Turkey has prevented German lawmakers from visiting the roughly 250 troops stationed at Incirlik as part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, saying that Berlin needs to improve its attitude first.

“We see that Germany supports everything that is against Turkey,” Cavusoglu told a news conference. “Under these circumstances it is not possible for us to open Incirlik to German lawmakers right now ... If they take positive steps in the future we can reconsider.”

Turkey was infuriated when Germany, citing security concerns, banned some Turkish politicians from addressing rallies of expatriate Turks ahead of the referendum. Ankara responded by accusing Berlin of “Nazi-like” tactics.

Germany has expressed concern about the widespread security crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup in Turkey. More than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and more than 40,000 people jailed.

German officials said this month that 414 Turkish citizens with diplomatic passports and other government work permits had requested asylum since the attempted putsch. Berlin’s interior ministry has confirmed that asylum requests had been approved for a number of the applicants, a move that angered Ankara.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Humeyra Pamuk; writing by David Dolan; editing by Mark Heinrich

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