ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday asked his foreign minister to expel ambassadors from 10 countries, including Germany and the United States, who have called for the release of a leader of the imprisoned civil society.
The emissaries on Monday released a highly unusual joint statement claiming that the continued detention of Parisian-born philanthropist and activist Osman Kavala “cast a shadow” over Turkey.
The escalation of the row with Western countries – most of which are also NATO allies – crowns a scorching week for Turkey in which it was added to a global blacklist of money laundering and corruption. terrorist financing and its currency plunged for fear of economic mismanagement and the risk of hyperinflation.
“I ordered our foreign minister to declare these 10 ambassadors persona non grata as soon as possible,” Erdogan said, using a diplomatic term meaning the first step before deportation. “They must leave by the day they no longer know Turkey,” he said, accusing them of “indecency”.
Western ambassadors called for a “fair and swift resolution” of Kavala’s case.
Kavala, 64, has been in prison without a conviction since 2017 and faces a slew of charges related to the 2013 anti-government protests and the failed military coup in 2016.
In comments on the ambassadors published to local media on Thursday, Erdogan said “we cannot afford the luxury of welcoming them to our country.”
The Turkish lira continued its fall into record territory against the dollar moments after Erdogan’s comments on fears of a new wave of Turkish tensions with the West.
The lira has lost a fifth of its value against the dollar since the start of the year and the annual inflation rate has reached almost 20%, four times the government’s target.
Erdogan risks “dragging the Turkish economy into a crisis caused by the president,” Eurasia Group said.
Diplomatic friction escalated when the FATF’s global financial misconduct watchdog responded to threats to place Turkey under surveillance for failing to properly combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
Turkey joins a âgray listâ of countries that includes Syria, South Sudan and Yemen.
Erdogan had fought fiercely against the designation, introducing new legislation that was ostensibly aimed at combating terrorist networks – but which, according to critics, ended up primarily targeting Turkish NGOs that promote pro-Kurdish causes and rights. of man.
Although little known internationally, Kavala has become a symbol to his supporters of the sweeping crackdown unleashed by Erdogan after surviving the 2016 coup attempt.
Speaking from his prison cell last week, Kavala said he felt like a tool in Erdogan’s attempts to blame a foreign plot for national opposition to his nearly two-decade rule.
“The real reason for my continued detention is that it responds to the government’s need to keep alive the fiction that the Gezi protests (2013) were the result of a foreign plot,” Kavala said.
“Since I am accused of being part of this plot allegedly organized by foreign powers, my release would weaken the fiction in question and it is not something the government would like.” Kavala was acquitted of Gezi’s charges in February 2020, only to be re-arrested before he could return home and returned to prison for alleged links to the 2016 coup plot.
Posted in Dawn, le 24 October 2021