Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu threatened to step down after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to render “persona non grata” 10 Western ambassadors who called for the release of jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala, Deutsche Welle reported.
Çavuşoğlu, who was in South Korea when Erdoğan made the statement on Saturday, urged him to delay the decision until a cabinet meeting on Monday, by which time they would have time to talk face to face, Deutsche Welle journalist Hilal Köylü reported in the publication’s Turkish language edition.
“If the ambassadors are declared persona non grata, I will be forced to leave the ministry,” Çavuşoğlu told Erdoğan. The president replied that there was nothing he could do, according to the report, which did not say how the information was obtained.
Members of Erdogan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) stepped in, warning of the impact of the decision on diplomatic ties with the countries, which included the United States, Germany, France and Canada. They sought a compromise formula, after which the presidency and foreign ministry sought to persuade the embassies concerned that they would not interfere in the country’s internal affairs, Deutsche Welle said.
Erdoğan’s threat made headlines across the world and sent the Turkish lira tumbling to a record low on Monday. Later in the day, the U.S. government put out a statement saying it was committed to article 41 of the Vienna Convention, which pledges non-interference in another country’s internal affairs.
Fahrettin Altun, Erdoğan’s communications director, said the Deutche Welle report was fabricated.
“If your motivation was to report, you would retract this so-called news and apologise,” Altun said on Twitter. “You are not only making “fake news”, you are also poisoning Turkey-Germany relations.”
Köylü has more than a decade of experience working as a diplomacy reporter for leading publications in Turkey.
The ambassadors of the 10 countries issued the joint statement concerning Kavala on Oct. 18. “Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his (Kavala’s) urgent release,” they said.
The lira was trading up 1.1 percent at 9.48 per dollar at 4:34 p.m. local time on Tuesday. It had slumped to as low as 9.85 per dollar on Monday on concern that the spat would further alienate Turkey from the West.
Turkey’s courts have held Kavala in custody for four years without a conviction on charges of espionage and plotting to overthrow the government by organising the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, which ballooned into nationwide demonstrations against Erdoğan’s government.
The ECHR has demanded Kavala’s release, citing human rights laws and pledges by Turkey to adhere to the court’s decisions. [ahvalnews.com]