Germany to invest $65mn in Turkish Incirlik base – report

A German Tornado jet is pictured in a hangar at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey. © Tobias Schwarz
Turkey’s Incirlik military base, used to launch anti-terrorist missions in the region, will reportedly be revamped with the help of a €58 million ($65 million) investment from Germany. That’s despite Ankara recently banning German authorities from visiting the site.

The German Defense Ministry has decided to renovate the facilities used by 250 German troops stationed at the base, according to information obtained by Spiegel Online. 

READ MORE: Merkel dismisses Erdogan’s ‘incomprehensible’ criticism of Armenian genocide resolution

Funding of €26 million ($29 million) is to be provided for the construction of a private airfield for six German Tornado reconnaissance jets stationed at the base and on soldiers’ accommodation, the report says, citing the budget drafted by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyens and State Secretary Gerd Hoofe. Spiegel states that currently soldiers at the base are forced to station their aircraft in an area used by American troops and use their allies’ technical support. They are also presently living in makeshift tents.

A further €30 million ($33 million) will go on obtaining a modern mobile command post for the soldiers, according to the report.

The Defense Ministry sees the renovations as urgently needed, and the warplanes stationed at the base regularly fly combat missions to support the US-led coalition’s air campaign against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

Spiegel already reported on plans to upgrade the base back in April, but the move was postponed this summer, after Turkey banned German officials from visiting Incirlik.

The ban was imposed following the decision by the German Bundestag in early June to adopt a resolution recognizing the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Turkey protested the term ‘genocide,’ pointing out that many Turks were also killed during the violence.

At the end of August, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara will allow German lawmakers to visit Incirlik only if they openly reject the results of the resolution.

“It depends on the steps taken by Germany. If they take the necessary steps, we will enable this visit [to Incirlik],” he said at a news conference in Ankara.

READ MORE: German lawmakers’ Incirlik visit hinges on Armenian ‘genocide’ stance – Turkish FM

German MPs even reportedly mulled withdrawing the troops from Incirlik in favor of moving them to Jordanian or Cypriot airbases.

READ MORE: Germany mulls withdrawing jets from Incirlik base amid souring ties with Turkey – media

Last week however the German foreign minister said the Armenia resolution was “non-binding.” Spiegel also reported that the government is considering publicly distancing itself from the resolution.

Last Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel told German MPs that she has not been swayed from the Armenian decision, according to Reuters. But after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Sunday, Merkel did tell journalists there may soon be "good news" for German lawmakers who want to visit the base.