A German air force Tornado jet lands at an airbase in Incirlik, Turkey, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas(reuters_tickers)
BERLIN (Reuters) - Turkey is expected to approve an Oct. 4 visit by German lawmakers to the Incirlik military air base next week after the arrival of a new Turkish envoy to Germany, ending a dispute that jeopardised Germany's continued use of the base, a senior lawmaker said.
"I expect that the issue will be resolved next week," said Rainer Arnold, defence spokesman for the Social Democrats in parliament, echoing hopeful but less specific comments made by senior German officials last week.
Lawmakers had threatened to withdraw 250 troops from the base near the Syrian border unless Turkey allowed them to visit.
The news, first reported by the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, comes after efforts by Germany to mend fences with Ankara and a meeting was held on Saturday between the European Union's 28 foreign ministers and a senior Turkish official in Bratislava.
The EU, which depends on Ankara to keep a lid on the movement of migrants to the bloc, is now seeking to ease tensions with Turkey after criticising President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on opponents following the failed coup in July.
Turkey had already banned lawmakers from visiting Incirlik in response to a June parliamentary vote declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a "genocide." Senior officials last week said permission for the lawmaker visits depended on Germany distancing itself from the resolution.
On Friday chief government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the Armenia resolution was not legally binding, although he denied the government was distancing itself from the resolution.
Arnold said permission for the lawmakers' visit was essential for the Bundestag to extend the mandate due to end in December for German troops now stationed at Incirlik along with six Tornado reconnaissance jets and one refuelling plane, in support of the U.S.-led coalition's fight against Islamic State.
NATO also agreed last week to move its Airborne Warning and Control System, or AWACS, surveillance planes to Turkey from the Baltic region.
About 30 percent of the personnel for the planes is provided by Germany. Because the planes will provide information to the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State, the German parliament must approve any such deployment, Arnold said.
He said he did not expect any significant obstacles to parliamentary approval for the AWACS deployment, as long as Turkey agreed to let parliamentarians visit their troops at Incirlik.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Greg Mahlich)