Erdogan threatens to expel ten ambassadors

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened, Thursday, October 21, to expel ambassadors from ten countries, including the United States, France and Germany, after the appeal they had launched a few days earlier in favor of the release of the patron and businessman Osman Kavala, in pre-trial detention since 2017 in the high security prison of Silivri, on the outskirts of Istanbul.

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Customary with cookie-cutter statements, Mr. Erdogan let himself go on the plane that was bringing him back from a tour of Africa. “I told our Minister of Foreign Affairs that we could no longer afford the luxury of welcoming them to our country”, he told the journalists who accompanied him. “Is it your turn to teach Turkey a lesson?” Who do you think you are? “, he stormed, dismissing the suggestion that the Turkish judiciary was not independent. “Our judicial system offers one of the finest examples of independence”, he hammered.

Asked by reporters on Thursday about a possible expulsion of the ambassadors, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said Ankara was free to decide what action to take, ” in good time “, without giving more details.

“Persistent delay”

In a statement released on Monday, Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States called for a “Fair and rapid settlement of the matter” Osman Kavala, imprisoned for four years without trial. Diplomats notably observed that “The persistent delay [pris par] his trial (…) casts a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and the transparency of the Turkish judicial system ”. The next day, the ambassadors of the countries in question were summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, which judged their statement “Irresponsible”.

Read the interview: Article reserved for our subscribers For Osman Kavala, his “detention can be prolonged indefinitely”

A respected figure in civil society, Osman Kavala, 64, has been accused since 2013 by President Erdogan’s regime of having sought to overthrow the government. Known for his moderation, this intellectual has devoted most of his fortune to fund charitable works, bringing herself to the bedside of abused children, restoring the architectural heritage, relentlessly calling for dialogue between religious and ethnic minorities in Turkey.

The “George Soros of Turkey”, as Mr. Erdogan calls him, was notably one of the initiators of the campaign to recognize the genocide of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, a taboo subject in Turkey. Imprisoned since the end of 2017 without ever having been sentenced, Mr. Kavala was acquitted in 2020, then immediately reconsidered. He is accused of having orchestrated and financed the anti-Erdogan demonstrations of 2013 and of having taken part in the coup attempt that took place on July 15, 2016.

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