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Turkey’s Erdogan lifts threat to expel 10 Western ambassadors

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen during an official state visit to Angola at the presidential palace in Luanda, on October 18, 2021. (Osvaldo Silva/AFP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen during an official state visit to Angola at the presidential palace in Luanda, on October 18, 2021. (Osvaldo Silva/AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan steps back from a threat to expel the ambassadors of 10 Western nations over their support for a jailed activist, defusing a potential diplomatic crisis.

The envoys, including those of the US, Germany, and France, last week called for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been in a Turkish prison for four years awaiting trial on charges many view as unfounded.

The ambassadors of the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and New Zealand also joined the appeal.

As the cabinet meeting was underway, the US embassy in Ankara tweeted that it “maintains compliance” with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, which outlines diplomats’ duties to respect the laws of the host state and not to interfere in internal affairs. Other missions posted the same message.

State-run Anadolu news agency interpreted this as a “step back.” Citing presidency sources, it reported that the development was “received positively” by Erdogan.

“We believe that these ambassadors, who have fulfilled their commitment to Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, will now be more careful in their statements,” he says in televised remarks following a three-hour cabinet meeting in Ankara.

“Those who have shaped our country as they wished in the past panicked when Turkey made its own stand,” Erdogan asserts after the meeting.

He portrays the “outrageous” initial statement as a direct attack on Turkey’s judiciary and sovereignty. “Our intention is never to create a crisis, but to protect the dignity of our country,” the president says.

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