The Cairns Post

Erdo-go Turkey bans US, Germany

10 envoys booted


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday told his foreign minister to expel the ambassador­s of 10 countries, including Germany and the US, who had appealed for the release of a jailed civil society leader.

The envoys issued a highly unusual joint statement on Monday saying the continued detention of Parisian-born philanthro­pist and activist Osman Kavala “cast a shadow” over Turkey.

The escalating row with the Western countries – most of which are also NATO allies – caps a torrid week for Turkey in which it was added to a global money-laundering and terrorism-financing blacklist and its currency plunged over fears of economic mismanagem­ent and the risk of hyperinfla­tion.

“I have ordered our foreign minister to declare these 10 ambassador­s as persona non grata as soon as possible,” Mr Erdogan said, using a diplomatic term meaning the first step before expulsion.

“They must leave here the day they no longer know Turkey,” he said, accusing them of “indecency”.

Several European countries said late on Saturday they had received no official notificati­on from Turkey.

“We are currently in intensive consultati­on with the nine other countries concerned,” the German Foreign Ministry said.

“Our ambassador has not done anything that would justify the expulsion,” Norwegian foreign ministry spokeswoma­n Trude Maseide told media in her home country.

She vowed to continue pressing Turkey on human rights and democracy – comments echoed by Danish and Dutch officials.

The US was aware of the reports and was seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a State Department spokesman said.

Mr Kavala, 64, has been in jail without a conviction since 2017 on charges linked to 2013 anti-government protests and a failed military coup in 2016.

The Western ambassador­s had called for a “just and speedy resolution” to his case.

But on Saturday, Mr Erdogan described Mr Kavala as the “agent in Turkey” of Hungary-born American billionair­e George Soros – a regular target of right-wing and antiSemiti­c conspiracy theories.

Mr Kavala’s supporters see him as a symbol of the sweeping crackdown Erdogan unleashed after surviving a 2016 coup attempt.

Mr Kavala told AFP from his cell last week that Mr Erdogan was trying to blame foreign conspiracy for opposition to his almost two-decade rule, particular­ly the 2013 nationwide protests sparked by plans to demolish Gezi Park in Istanbul.

“Since I am accused of being a part of this conspiracy allegedly organised by foreign powers, my release would weaken the fiction,” he said.

 ?? ?? Osman Kavala
Osman Kavala

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia