Germany has reportedly granted refugee status to several Turkish soldiers and their families based in NATO facilities as Ankara keeps up its massive purge in the aftermath of last July’s failed military coup.
Local media reports, including Süddeutsche Zeitung daily, cited sources as saying on Monday that the country’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) had previously held back on reviewing the applications, pending the result of Turkey’s April constitutional reform referendum.
The BAMF has not confirmed the reports.
The asylum seekers are reportedly Turkish officers with diplomatic passports who used to be stationed at NATO bases in Germany, but were later sacked or recalled by Ankara.
The asylum applications, however, received a green light following the April 16 referendum that granted Turkish President Recep Erdogan sweeping executive powers.
Overall, nearly 40 Turkish military officers applied for asylum in Germany following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to the German-based Der Spiegel magazine. Ankara regards the asylum seekers as supporters of elements in the military that attempted to overthrow Erdogan.
The botched coup led to a massive crackdown on opposition figures across Turkey and saw the detention of thousands of people, including military officers, judges and academics.
The development comes as Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik stated in January that “our expectation from Germany is that they will never accept the asylum requests.”
The reported move to grant asylum to the Turkish nationals in Germany will likely lead to further tensions in ties between Ankara and Berlin, which had already grown tense in the lead-up to the April referendum.
Erdogan accused German officials of acting like “Nazis” and “fascists” as several cities in Germany banned rallies by Turkish ministers and expatriates in the country to drum up support for a ‘Yes’ vote in referendum
The Turkish president warned NATO member nations last November against granting asylum to military officers suspected of links to the plotters of the failed coup after dozens of Turkey’s NATO officers sought asylum in Europe.
“How can a terrorist, a terrorist soldier, a soldier who has been involved in plotting a coup, be employed in NATO?” Erdogan said at the time, as quoted by the country’s Milliyet daily.
Meanwhile, Germany has so far received 414 asylum applications from Turkish citizens fearing prosecution in connection to the failed coup, according to local press reports.
In late March, four Turkish NATO officers and a military attaché were offered refugee status in Norway. They, like their colleagues in Germany, decided to ignore orders to return home following the attempted coup and filed for asylum.