politics

Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to expel 10 western ambassadors, including US envoy

Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to expel 10 western ambassadors, including US envoy

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to expel the U.S. ambassador and the top envoys of nine other Western countries who called for the release of a jailed philanthropist, in a move that could further strain ties between the two NATO allies. “These 10 ambassadors must be declared personae non gratae at once, Mr. Erdogan said at a rally on Saturday in the western Turkish city of Eskisehir. “I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done. “These people will come to understand Turkey, he said. If carried through, the move would mark a sharp deterioration in relations between Turkey and the West, where many countries are Ankara’s allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Relations have worsened in recent years against the background of Mr. Erdogan’s rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s purchase of a Russian antiaircraft system. Osman Kavala, a philanthropist who has contributed to numerous Turkish civil society groups, has been in detention since 2017 when he was charged with financing widespread antigovernment protests in 2013. He was acquitted of those charges last year and released, but then hours later he was put back in detention on charges of having links to the failed 2016 coup. The accusations have been called politically motivated by human-rights groups. Last week, ambassadors of the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and several European countries signed a joint statement on the fourth anniversary of Mr. Kavala’s detention asking Ankara to release the philanthropist, in line with a December 2019 decision by the European Court of Human Rights that ruled in his favor and called on Turkey to free him. “[Delays and other irregularities] cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency in the Turkish judiciary system, the statement said. Difficult ties between Ankara and Washington haven’t improved under the Biden administration. The Turkish leader was angered last month when President Biden didn’t meet with him on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. In a move seen widely as a snub against the White House, Mr. Erdogan met shortly afterward with Mr. Putin on the Russian Black Sea coast. Much of Mr. Erdogan’s anger toward Washington stems from U.S. support for Kurdish forces that still control much of the northeastern part of Syria. Some of those Kurdish fighters have been accused of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which Ankara and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization. Ankara is also demanding a refund for being kicked out of NATO’s F-35 jet fighter consortium, a move triggered by Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense systems. Mr. Erdogan says that Turkey can form partnerships with whomever it wishes as he works to boost the country’s stature in the Middle East. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara wasn’t immediately available for comment and hadn’t posted a statement regarding Mr. Erdogan’s speech. Likewise, it couldn’t be determined if the governments of the countries involved had received specific information about the possible expulsion of their ambassadors. Mr. Kavala’s next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 26, but he says he no longer intends to participate in the hearings. “Because a just trial is not possible, I believe that from now on my attendance in hearings and my making a defense would be meaningless, he said in a statement Friday. Mr. Kavala said in an opinion piece in the New York Times in 2019 that Mr. Erdogan had singled him out because of his vocal support for the 2013 Gezi protests, named after the central Istanbul park where they began, as well as for his role as a board member on the Open Society Foundation in Turkey. Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly struck out at business magnate George Soros, who founded the Open Society grant-making network. This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text Download.

politics 2021-10-24 Livemint