Ten envoys not welcome in Turkey: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sharply criticised the ambassadors of 10 countries, including New Zealand and the US, following their call this week for the release of key philanthropist Osman Kavala from jail.

“I told our foreign minister that we do not have the luxury to host these (ambassadors) in our country,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by state news agency Anadolu.

It was not immediately clear if Erdogan’s remarks would lead to Ankara expelling the diplomats.

The ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the US called in a statement on Monday for a “just and speedy resolution” to Kavala’s case.

The next day, they were summoned to Turkish foreign ministry which rejected the statement as “irresponsible” and “unacceptable”.

“Why would the 10 ambassadors make such a statement? How dare you (try to) teach Turkey such a lesson?” Erdogan said, referring to the diplomats, while charging that the judiciary in Turkey is “independent”.

“Do you release the killers, terrorists in your country? Neither America nor Germany… which of them did such a thing so far?” Erdogan further charged in remarks to reporters on the plane from his Africa tour.

Kavala has been in pre-trial detention since November 2017 without a conviction.

Erdogan’s government believes Kavala is linked to an international conspiracy to trigger insurrection in Turkey.

Accused of espionage and attempting to overthrow the government through 2013 Gezi protests, Kavala denies all charges but could face life imprisonment if convicted.

The envoys have also asked Turkey to abide by the 2019 European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling to release Kavala.

Turkish courts have so far declined to abide by the ruling even though ECHR rulings are technically binding on Turkey, a member state of the Council of Europe.

Erdogan on Thursday criticised the ECHR for trying to “convict” the Turkish state “with this remnant of Soros called Kavala,” accusing Kavala of links to the US-Hungarian philanthropist George Soros.

The Turkish president had earlier referred to Kavala as the “representative, the office of Soros” in Turkey.

“These need to be monitored closely,” Erdogan said, accusing Soros using his finances to trigger political upheavals in countries, particularly in the Balkans.

“We will not allow them to do so,” Erdogan said, without elaborating.

Kavala is the founder of the NGO Anadolu Kultur, which promotes exchange and dialogue between Turkey and its neighbours through cultural and artistic works.

The Fort News