By Sultan Cogalan
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has made it clear that Turkey will not open its Incirlik airbase to German lawmakers who want to meet German soldiers stationed there unless Germany takes some “positive steps”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday threatened Turkey that Germany would withdraw soldiers from the airbase if their MPs were not allowed the visit.
Speaking at a news conference with his Gabonese counterpart Pacome Moubelet Boubeya on Tuesday, Cavusoglu said the visit remains "out of the question".
"It is not possible to open the Incirlik base for visit, but we might reconsider the decision in the future if we see 'positive steps' from Germany," he said.
"The base in [southern Turkish province of] Konya is a NATO base. But Incirlik is solely Turkey's base. The decision is ours there. They can't bluff us and threaten us to 'go elsewhere'," he said, adding: "If they really want to go elsewhere, we will not insist [them to stay]."
Earlier, Merkel had highlighted the importance of the visit of German MPs at the airbase.
"I will make it very clear to the Turkish president during our talks that it is indispensable for our soldiers to be able to be visited by members of the German Bundestag, as ours is a parliamentary military," the German leader said on Thursday.
About Merkel's statements, Cavusoglu said: "Germany need to understand this: Those times are over [when it could say]: 'I do whatever want in Turkey and get whatever I want from Turkey’.
"You cannot take a hostile approach with Turkey," the foreign minister said.
Cavusoglu also recalled Germany's attitude during Turkey's referendum that took place on April 16.
Ankara had sharply criticized its European partners in the lead up to the referendum, accusing them of taking sides and interfering in Turkey’s internal affairs.
Tensions reached a peak when German authorities banned planned meetings of Turkish ministers with representatives of its three-million-strong Turkish community in Germany ahead of the referendum; President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had compared the bans with Nazi-era practices.
After more than 50 percent of Turkish citizens voted Yes for the presidential system, Merkel had sought to smooth over weeks of tension, calling for “constructive dialogue” between the EU and Turkey.