Saturday, November 27 2021
  • Erdogan summons Cabinet to discuss expulsion of 10 envoys
  • They demanded the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala
  • Deportations would have opened a wide rift with the West

ANKARA, October 25 (Reuters) – Turkey and its Western allies emerged from a widespread diplomatic crisis on Monday after foreign embassies said they were following diplomatic covenants on non-interference, thereby avoiding the threat of deportation of 10 ambassadors.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who said at the weekend that he ordered the envoys to be declared “persona non grata” for calling for the release of an imprisoned philanthropist, told a press conference that they had taken a step back and would be more careful.

“Our goal is never to create crises, it is to protect the rights, laws, honor and sovereignty of our country,” Erdogan said in a televised speech after chairing a cabinet meeting.

“With a new statement made by the same embassies today, a step back was taken from this slander against our country and our nation. I think these ambassadors (…) will be more careful in their statements regarding the sovereign rights of Turkey. “

Despite his defiant tone, Erdogan’s comments on Monday were a marked change in easing tensions after the threats he made over the weekend.

The ambassadors, including the American envoy, last week called on the authorities to release Osman Kavala, a philanthropist who has been detained for four years for financing demonstrations and being involved in an attempted coup. He denies the charges.

The public appeal infuriated Ankara, which said diplomats – also from Germany, France, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland – s ‘interfered in the internal affairs of Turkey.

As Erdogan summoned his ministers on Monday afternoon for a session that could have confirmed the expulsions and triggered the deepest rift with the West in 19 years in power, several embassies issued a brief statement.

“The United States notes that it maintains compliance with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the US Embassy said on Twitter. The other embassies posted similar messages or retweeted the American message.

A Turkish version of the US statement said the embassy “confirms” compliance with the convention, which some observers say could be interpreted as suggesting that the embassies are committed to complying in the future.

“The strategic ambiguity at work (…) allows specialists in the image of Erdogan to claim that the West has surrendered, while the English version gives the impression at home that the West has held good, “former opposition parliamentarian Aykan Erdemir said on Twitter.

The US State Department later said Monday’s Twitter statement was intended “to emphasize that the statement we released on October 18 complied with Article 41,” adding that it would continue dialogue with Turkey. .

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a joint press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria on October 20, 2021. REUTERS / Afolabi Sotunde

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“We are unwavering in our commitment to promote the rule of law, to promote respect for human rights around the world,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“The Biden administration seeks to cooperate with Turkey on common priorities, and as with any NATO ally, we will continue to engage in dialogue to resolve any disagreements.”

A diplomatic source said talks on a tension reduction plan were being led by the US mission and Turkish officials, including Presidential Advisor and spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The envoys aimed to highlight the principles of the Vienna Convention while asking Turkish officials for advice on what might be “acceptable” for Erdogan, the source said, adding that they wisely hoped the Twitter statements would help. to ease tensions even if the Turkish government gave no assurances. .

INVESTORS CONCERNED

In response to Monday’s developments, the Turkish lira rallied after hitting an all-time low of 9.85 against the US dollar, and was at 9.5930 at 20:53 GMT. It has lost almost a quarter of its value this year.

Kavala, a businessman and contributor to civil society groups, is accused of funding nationwide protests in 2013 and of participating in a failed coup in 2016. He has been detained while his trial continues.

Rights groups say his case is emblematic of a crackdown on dissent under Erdogan. Kavala said on Friday he would no longer attend his trial because a fair hearing was impossible after the president’s recent comments.

Diplomatic tension added to investor concerns about the Turkish economy after the central bank, under pressure from Erdogan to support growth, unexpectedly cut interest rates by 200 points last week despite inflation reaching almost 20%. Read more

The 10 envoys were summoned by the foreign ministry last week after calling for a just and swift resolution of Kavala’s case, and his “urgent release”.

Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said earlier Monday that Turkey’s constitution forbids discussion of active court cases, including by Turkish politicians in parliament, and that the envoys’ statement marked “clear and disrespectful” interference.

The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s release two years ago, saying there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense and that his detention was aimed at silencing him.

Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay, Humeyra Pamuk and Sabine Siebold; Written by Dominic Evans, edited by Timothy Heritage and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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