Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Turkey

Newsline: Turkey summons French charge d’affaires over caricatures in Charlie Hebdo weekly

Turkey summoned the French charge d’affaires on Wednesday over caricatures published in Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, a statement by Turkish foreign ministry said. The cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo showed Erdogan sitting in a white T-shirt and underpants, holding a canned drink along with a woman wearing an Islamic hijab. Turkish officials described it as a “disgusting effort”. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-security-turkey-summons/turkey-summons-french-charge-daffaires-over-caricatures-in-charlie-hebdo-weekly-idUSKBN27D2RK) France and Turkey have been at loggerheads over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, after a teacher who had shown pupils the cartoons in a lesson on freedom of speech was beheaded in France this month. Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet as blasphemy.

Newsline: France recalls envoy after Turkey scolds Macron over Muslims

France recalled its ambassador after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed mental help over his attitude towards Muslims. “Outrage and insult are not a method,” Macron’s office said. The French leader this month declared war on “Islamist separatism”, which he believes is taking over some Muslim communities in France. France has since been shaken by the beheading of a teacher by an Islamist radical, avenging the use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a class on freedom of expression. “What is the problem of this person called Macron with Muslims and Islam? Macron needs treatment on a mental level,” Erdogan said in a speech in the central Turkish city of Kayseri. Turkey and France are both members of the NATO military alliance, but have been at odds over issues including Syria and Libya, maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. “France has gathered its European partners, who share France’s demand that Turkey puts a stop to its dangerous adventures in the Mediterranean and in the region,” the statement from Macron’s office said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-france-macron/france-recalls-envoy-after-turkey-scolds-macron-over-muslims-idUSKBN2790JY) Erdogan has two months to respond or face measures, it added, noting the absence of a condolence message from Turkey’s leader after the history teacher’s death last week.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Turkey Issues Terrorism Alert and Halts Services

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey issued a security alert on Friday, saying it had received reports of a possible coming attack on Americans and other foreigners, and temporarily suspended consular services. “The U.S. Mission in Turkey has received credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in Istanbul, including against the U.S. Consulate General, as well as potentially other locations in Turkey,” the embassy said in a statement. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/23/world/europe/turkey-us-embassy-terrorism-alert.html) The embassy in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, urged American citizens to exercise caution, including while at large office buildings, shopping malls and other places foreigners gather. It said citizen and visa services would be suspended temporarily at all U.S. consulates in Turkey. The Islamic State and an outlawed Kurdish militant group conducted deadly attacks on Turkish soil between 2015 and 2017. A far-left group has also targeted the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

Newsline: Bangladesh inaugurates new embassy in Turkey

Bangladesh inaugurated its new embassy complex in the Turkish capital Ankara. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, virtually joining the opening ceremony from Dhaka, said her country and Turkey shared deeply rooted values and history and the opening of the new embassy would further add to their close relations. The premier applauded Turkey’s initiative to extend a helping hand to countries struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic with medical supplies. Recalling her 2012 visit to Turkey and her meeting with Erdogan, Bangladeshi primer — who is also a daughter of Rahman — said her country “attaches great importance to its relations with Turkey.” (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/bangladesh-inaugurates-new-embassy-in-turkey/1973169) The formal diplomatic relations between the two nations began in 1974, nearly 50 years ago.

Newsline: Turkey urges Kosovo to refrain from relocating its embassy to Jerusalem

Turkey called on Kosovo to refrain the opening of an embassy in Jerusalem, as that would undermine U.N. resolutions and hurt the Palestinian cause. Elaborating on a plan that Kosova will carry its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, such steps would undermine the historical and legal status of Jerusalem and may also prevent Kosovo from being recognized by other states in the future, said the Foreign Ministry in a statement on Sept. 6. “It is disappointing that such a step, which would constitute a clear violation of international law, is considered by the Kosovo authorities,” read the statement. (https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-concerned-over-serbias-moving-embassy-to-jerusalem-158003) The statement also cited various U.N. resolutions noting that the Palestinian issue could only solve with an independent, sovereign, and geographically sustainable Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem based on the pre-1967 borders. Turkey, one of the first countries to recognize Kosovo in 2008, has given wholehearted support for Kosovo’s international recognition, the statement added.

Newsline: Iraq cancels Turkish Defense minister visit, summons ambassador

Iraq cancelled the Turkish defence minister’s visit to the country which was scheduled for Thursday, Iraq’s foreign ministry said in a statement. The ministry also summoned the Turkish ambassador to hand him “a strong protest note and inform him of Iraq’s confirmed rejection of his country’s attacks and violations”, the statement added. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-turkey/iraq-cancels-turkish-defense-minister-visit-summons-ambassador-statement-idUSKCN2572S9) A Turkish drone strike on Tuesday in the Sidakan area in northeastern Iraq, near the Turkish and Iranian borders, killed two members of Iraq’s border guard and the driver of the vehicle they were in, the Iraqi military said.

Newsline: Former Kyrgyz Diplomat Implicated In Customs-Fraud Case Freed From Custody

A former Kyrgyz diplomat mentioned in investigations into the high-profile killing in Istanbul of a Chinese citizen of Uyghur origin, whose statements to reporters led to a corruption scandal that shook the country in November, has been fined and released from custody. A spokeswoman for Bishkek’s Birinchi Mai district court, Aizada Momunova, told RFE/RL that the former consul-general in Istanbul, Erkin Sopokov, was ordered to pay 300,000 soms ($3,920) but given no jail time. (https://www.rferl.org/a/former-kyrgyz-diplomat-implicated-in-customs-fraud-case-freed-from-custody/30745565.html) There was no official announcement about Sopokov’s verdict and sentence at the time. The court’s website said on July 24 that Sopokov made a deal with investigators and pleaded guilty to abuse of office and illegal enrichment. No more details were provided. Sopokov was fired from his post in Istanbul and arrested following the assassination of Aierken Saimaiti, a Chinese national of Uyghur ethnicity, who was shot dead at an Istanbul cafe in November. Investigators revealed that Saimaiti used a vehicle with diplomatic license plates that belonged to Sopokov. Sopokov was accused of illegally lending his Range Rover to Saimaiti and other individuals, illegally earning $200,000 and misusing government-provided benefits.

Newsline: Turkey to open embassy in Togo

Turkey will open an embassy in the West African country of Togo, the Turkish foreign minister announced. After meeting with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe in the capital Lome, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will further develop its bilateral relations with Togo. He said during the meeting, the sides talked about how to improve relations and when the new embassy will be opened. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/turkey-to-open-embassy-in-togo-foreign-minister/1916792) Since 2003, Turkey and dozens of African countries have mutually opened embassies. Cavusoglu added that the sides also talked about organizing flights to Togo by Turkish Airlines (THY) as well as cooperation on security and education. Cavusoglu arrived in Togo Monday as the first stop on a three-nation West African tour, to be followed by Niger and Equatorial Guinea.

Newsline: Turkish intelligence and embassy in Greece accused of expanding spying

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, or MIT) has expanded monitoring, illegal information gathering and intrusive surveillance activities in neighboring Greece, while the Turkish Embassy in Athens has engaged in similar operations in a blatant violation of international conventions, newly discovered secret documents have revealed. (https://www.nordicmonitor.com/2020/05/spying-by-turkish-intelligence-and-embassy-in-greece-has-been-expanded-secret-documents-show/) The documents expose expansive, clandestine and hostile activities conducted by Turkish intelligence and diplomats in a NATO ally country. The secret operations, although targeting members of government critic the Gülen movement, reveal how Turkey has been transformed under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into conducting massive intelligence operations in a neighboring country and challenging Greek national security interests. They also tell the tale of the modus operandi of the new Turkey under one-man rule, often displaying the behavior of a non-rational, non-state actor in harassing, threatening and intimidating other countries in its immediate neighborhood.

Newsline: Asian embassies in Ankara turn digital

Even with Saudi Arabia yet to formally announce whether the Hajj pilgrimage will be held this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, envoys of Muslim countries in Turkey have already made alternative plans for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Lockdown and social distancing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus have forced embassies to shift their plans from get-together feasts to video meetings this Eid, which falls on Sunday. The Malaysian embassy in the capital Ankara normally organizes iftar or fast-breaking gatherings once or twice during Ramadan, inviting community members, students and eminent personalities in Turkey. “But we didn’t do this year due to COVID-19,” said Arhan Shah Anuar, Malaysia’s charge d’affaires in Turkey. Malaysians living in different parts of Turkey would normally gather at the embassy or at a hotel to celebrate Eid together. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/asian-embassies-in-ankara-turn-digital-this-eid/1849899) “Because of the extra-ordinary situation triggered by the deadly pandemic, we had to adhere to the safety measures and have therefore reduced physical interactions, among others by shifting the mode of interaction via various alternatives, including online meeting platforms such as Zoom,” said Arhan.