Diplomatic crisis in Turkey deepens as Ankara faces backlash over threat of expelling ambassador

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Turkey faces diplomatic backlash after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the expulsion of 10 ambassadors, including US Ambassador David M. Satterfield, after calling for the release of jailed civil society leader .

The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway all issued statements indicating they remained committed to defending human rights in Turkey, while the United States and Germany said they were seeking clarification. . The countries are among 10 whose ambassadors Erdogan declared on Saturday persona non grata, a diplomatic term used to expel a person.

Turkey’s president condemned the ambassadors for their rare joint statement calling for the release of Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, a move Erdogan condemned as meddling in Turkey’s affairs.

FILE – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, waves to the media as he leaves after his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Huber Villa presidential palace, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 16, 2021.

Erdogan said: “They will know and understand Turkey. The day they don’t know and understand Turkey, they will leave.”

Kavala is one of Turkey’s most prominent civil society supporters and a critic of Erdogan. He is accused of seeking to overthrow Erdogan by funding the 2016 coup attempt and the 2013 civil unrest. He has been in prison for four years but has not been convicted and denies all charges against him. him.

FILE - A journalist stands in front of a poster depicting imprisoned philanthropist Osman Kavala, during a news conference given by his lawyers, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 31, 2018.

FILE – A journalist stands in front of a poster depicting imprisoned philanthropist Osman Kavala, during a news conference given by his lawyers, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 31, 2018.

Turkey’s president says he defends Turkey’s independence, a position that some observers say fits well with his nationalist voting base – presidential elections are due to be held by 2023. Political columnist Ilhan Uzgel of the portal Duvar News says Erdogan could use tough diplomacy to distract from a plummeting currency and impending economic crisis.

“Erdogan is losing his popularity because the economic conditions are terrible. But if Erdogan has problems with the United States, it works for nationalist voters. He can accuse the opposition of cooperating with foreign powers and the CIA and Washington to overthrow him,” he said.

None of the 10 ambassadors has so far received formal notification that they have been declared persona non grata. Observers say it remains to be seen whether Erdogan is ready to proceed with the diplomatic expulsions, a move that could further exacerbate the country’s financial difficulties and its isolation from its traditional Western allies.

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