Turkey informs that it will declare ten ambassadors, including that of France, “persona non grata”

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that he had ordered his Foreign Ministry to declare 10 ambassadors persona non grata, including those from France, Germany and the United States. Last Monday, diplomats had called for the immediate release of opposition figure Osman Kavala, whom Ankara accuses of having participated in the failed coup of 2016.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday (October 23rd) that ambassadors from ten countries, including France, Germany and the United States, who have called for the release of opponent Osman Kavala, will be declared “persona non grata “.

“I have ordered our Minister of Foreign Affairs to organize as soon as possible the declaration of these ten ambassadors as persona non grata”, declared the Head of State during a trip to central Turkey, without giving a specific date on which the measure will be taken.

A rare decision in international relations. Declaring diplomats persona non grata opens the way to their expulsion or dismissal from their own country.

“From morning to night (diplomats) repeat: Kavala, Kavala… But the one they are talking about, Kavala, is Soros’ agent in Turkey,” the president told a public meeting, referring to the American-born billionaire. Hungarian George Soros, whom Turkey accuses of financing the Gezi uprising in 2013.

Activist Osman Kavala, 64, has been in prison without conviction since 2017.
Handout Anadolu Culture Center/AFP/File

These ambassadors “must know and understand Turkey”, declared Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing them of “indecency”. “They will have to leave the country if they don’t know,” he added.

Kavala, detained without conviction since late 2017

In a statement released Monday evening, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States called for a “just settlement and fast business” Osman Kavala, a Turkish businessman and patron. who became an obsession for Ankara and was imprisoned for four years without trial. The next day, the representatives of these countries were summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish authorities deemed their approach “unacceptable”.

The Turkish head of state threatened Thursday to expel these ambassadors, but without taking concrete measures in this regard. On the same day, he said that ambassadors demanding the businessman’s release will not demand the release of “bandits, murderers and terrorists” in their own country.

In a written statement, Osman Kavala said on Friday that it “would make no sense” for him to attend his future trial due to the impossibility of obtaining due process following recent statements by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The first countries to respond were Sweden and Norway, which said they had received no official notification regarding their respective ambassadors.

“Our ambassador did nothing to justify the expulsion,” Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Trude Måseide was quoted as saying by the NTB news agency. He added that his country “will continue to urge Turkey to respect the democratic standards and the rule of law to which the country is committed under the European Convention on Human Rights”.

Case continues as EU threatens to sanction Ankara

Osman Kavala, 64, an opposition figure and civil society figurehead, has been accused since 2013 by President Erdogan’s government of trying to destabilize Turkey and is particularly targeted for supporting anti-government protests in 2013 , known as the Gezi movement.

Ayse Bugra, wife of Osman Kavala, speaks outside a court in Istanbul, where her husband's release has been sought, on February 5, 2021.
Ayse Bugra, wife of Osman Kavala, speaks outside a court in Istanbul, where her husband’s release has been sought, on February 5, 2021. © Emrah Gurel, AP

He was later accused of seeking to “overthrow the government” during the 2016 coup attempt. In 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the arrest of the businessman was not based on any evidence and was political in nature, for which he demanded his immediate release, a decision that Turkey ignored.

Osman Kavala will remain in prison at least until November 26, the date of the next hearing, an Istanbul court decided in early October, despite European threats of sanctions against Ankara.

The Council of Europe recently threatened Turkey with sanctions, which could be adopted at its next session (November 30-December 2) if the opponent is not released by then.

With AFP and Reuters

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