Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting that German troops stationed at the southern Turkish base would be moved to a military facility in Jordan over the coming months.
Von der Leyen said the relocation would be carried out in stages in order to avoid an interruption in Germany’s support for the global coalition fighting Daesh.
Merkel: Dialogue will continue
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that withdrawing troops from Incirlik would not mean ending dialogue and cooperation with Turkey in other areas, including common efforts to tackle the refugee crisis.
“We have a wide range of issues of common interest with Turkey. Furthermore, we maintain close economic ties. In this respect, it is very necessary to continue dialogue,” she told a press conference in Berlin.
Merkel said that due to disagreements with Turkey on German lawmakers’ request to visit the troops stationed at Incirlik without any restrictions, the decision was necessary.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s visit to Ankara on Monday failed to resolve differences between the two NATO allies over the lawmakers’ request.
Ankara has been upset at a number of issues with Germany, including various lawmakers who have been openly supportive of the PKK -- which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the U.S.
Gabriel said such visits have been very important as under the German Constitution, the armed forces are controlled by parliament, not the government.
Since 2015, Germany has stationed six Tornado surveillance jets and a tanker aircraft at Incirlik, along with around 260 personnel, providing intelligence and logistics support for anti-Daesh operations.
Opposition urges mending of fence
Markus Loening, a senior member of the opposition Free Democratic Party, criticised the government's failure to resolve its differences with Turkey.
"It is to the detriment of German and Turkish people if relations deteriorate further,” he told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
"We are allies in NATO, we are fighting ISIS [Daesh] together, we can only solve the situation in Syria by working together closely, the refugee situation needs a common effort,” he said.
Loening, Germany’s human rights commissioner in 2010-2014, with extensive experience in Turkish-German relations, urged politicians to make more effort to overcome their differences.
"It is time the political leaders of our countries come together and solve real problems instead of catfighting over unimportant issues. The security of both our countries is at stake,” he stressed.