ISTANBUL – Germany must decide whether it wants to stand with its ally Turkey or with alleged coup plotters, Turkey's prime minister said Tuesday, as relations took a dip.
Speaking to his party members, Binali Yildirim criticized Germany's decision to grant asylum to soldiers involved in a failed coup attempt last summer, calling it "a significant development in the regression of our relations again."
Calling on Germany to choose, Yildirim said, "If it wants to develop its relations with Turkey, further strengthen its historic friendship, then it needs to turn towards the Republic of Turkey" rather than groups Turkey deems terror organizations, including Kurdish militants and the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey blames Gulen for orchestrating the coup - a charge he denies.
The asylum decision has already prompted Turkey to block a request for German lawmakers to visit their country's some 270 troops serving with the coalition against the Islamic State group at Incirlik air base.
The refusal angered Germany, increasing the chances that it will move its Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane to another country.
"If the Turkish prime minister is demanding of the German government that we should ignore our asylum law and disregard our constitution, I say clearly: we stand by our constitution, we also stand by the asylum law," Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary caucus leader of Germany's junior governing party, told reporters in Berlin. "This is not diplomatically negotiable."
"This is a constitutional state and we will not let ourselves be blackmailed," said Oppermann, of the center-left Social Democrats, referring to the Incirlik visit refusal. He said Turkey had a "last chance" to clear up the matter at an upcoming NATO summit.