Turkey to expel US envoy and 9 others as tensions rise before Rome summit

Turkey to expel US envoy and 9 others as tensions rise before Rome summit

Turkish President orders his foreign Ministry to expel US and nine other countries. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he had told his foreign ministry to expel the US ambassador and nine other countries for challenging the judicial process in Turkey. The 9 states are demanding the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala.

The countries include the United States, Denmark, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland and New Zealand because of a move that President Erdogan called irresponsible.

Seven of the ambassadors represent Turkey’s NATO allies and the expulsions, if carried out, would open the deepest rift with the West in Erdogan’s 19 years in power.

Joint statement from the 10 countries

Last week in a joint statement, the ambassadors of those countries called for a just and speedy resolution to Kavala’s case, and for his “urgent release”. They were summoned by the foreign ministry, which called the statement irresponsible and interfering with the judicial process of a sovereign state.

Kavala, a contributor to numerous extremist civil society groups, has been in prison for four years, charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and with involvement in a failed coup in 2016. He has remained in detention while his latest trial continues and denies the charges.

Kavala was acquitted last year of charges related to the 2013 protests, but not of all the charges. And following a judicial appeal, the ruling was overturned this year and combined with charges related to the coup attempt. He is also suspected of working with some of the nations that have been expelled, to create instability in Turkey and selling state secrets.

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President Erdogan released a statement “I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done: These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata (undesirable) at once. You will sort it out immediately,”

“They will know and understand Turkey. The day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave,” he said to cheers from the crowd.

The U.S. and French embassies and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said it was aware of the reports and was seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

G20 summit in Rome

One diplomatic source said de-escalation was possible given Turkey has now made its stance very clear, and given the potential diplomatic fallout from such a move ahead of the G20 summit and the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow starting at the end of the month.

Erdogan has said previously that he plans to meet U.S. President Joe Biden at a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Rome next weekend, but it is unclear if this meeting will go ahead again after Turkey expel US ambassadors from the country.

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