Turkey’s Erdogan orders expulsion of US, Germany, eight other ambassadors
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday told his foreign minister to expel the ambassadors of 10 countries including Germany and the United States who 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,” 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”.
“Our ambassador has not done anything that would justify the expulsion,” Norwegian foreign ministry spokeswoman Trude Maseide told media in her home country, vowing to continue pressing Turkey on human rights and democracy.
– ‘President-made crisis’ –
Kavala, 64, has been in jail without a conviction since 2017, and faces a string of 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.
The Turkish lira extended its fall into record-low territory against the dollar within moments of Erdogan’s comments on fears of a new wave of Turkish tensions with the West.
The lira has lost one-fifth of its value against the dollar since the start of the year and the annual inflation rate has reached nearly 20 percent — quadruple the government target
Several European countries were quick to react to Erdogan’s statement.
Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands — whose envoys all signed the document — said late on Saturday they had received no official notification from Turkey.
Erdogan is in danger of “dragging the Turkish economy into a president-made crisis”, Eurasia Group said.
The diplomatic friction was compounded when the global financial misconduct watchdog FATF placed Turkey under surveillance for failing to properly combat money laundering and terrorism financing.