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.
Escalating conflict with Western countries – most of which are also NATO allies – caps a scorching week for Turkey in which it was added to a global blacklist of money laundering and financing terrorism 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 here 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.
“Crisis created by the president”
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 “gray list” 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 that Erdogan unleashed after surviving the 2016 coup attempt.
Speaking to AFP 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-year rule. decades.
“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.
The Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights watchdog, issued a final warning to Turkey to comply with a 2019 European Court of Human Rights order aimed at freeing Kavala pending trial.
If Turkey fails to do so by its next meeting from November 30 to December 2, the Strasbourg-based council could vote to launch its first disciplinary proceedings against Ankara.
The procedure could lead to the suspension of Turkey’s voting rights and even its membership.
© 2021 AFP