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Archive for Turkey

Newsline: Turkish President closes doors to US Ambassador

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that his doors are closed to US Ambassador to Turkiye Jeffry Flake who has met with opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu. “[US President] Joe Biden’s ambassador visits Kemal. Shame on you, think with your head. You are an ambassador. Your interlocutor here is the president. How will you stand up after that and ask for a rendezvous with the president? Our doors are closed for him, he can no longer come in. Why? He needs to know his place,” Erdogan said on Sunday, as quoted by the Turkish Star newspaper. (https://en.mehrnews.com/news/198981/Erdogan-says-his-doors-closed-to-US-ambassador-in-Ankara) Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in Turkey on May 14. Kilicdaroglu, put forward by the opposition six parties alliance, is considered Erdogan’s main opponent. Public opinion research center MetroPOLL conducted a survey with the participation of 2,046 people in 28 Turkish provinces between January 13 and March 14. The survey showed that 44.6% of respondents would vote for Kilicdaroglu, while incumbent President Erdogan would receive 42% of the votes.

Newsline: Turkey summons Danish ambassador

Turkey has summoned the Danish envoy in Ankara to express its strong condemnation and protest over recent attacks on the Koran and the Turkish flag, the Foreign Ministry said. During the meeting, the Turkish government urged Danish authorities to take the necessary steps against the perpetrators and measures to prevent such provocations from recurring. “This act is a clear proof that Islamophobia, xenophobia, discrimination and racism have recently increased in Europe,” a ministry statement said. (https://neuters.de/world/turkey-summons-danish-envoy-over-burning-koran-2023-03-31/) Last week, a far-right group in Denmark called Patrioterne Gar Live burnt a copy of the Koran as well as a Turkish flag in front of the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen. There was no immediate response from the Danish foreign ministry to a request for comment on the Turkish foreign ministry’s remarks.

Newsline: Top Turkish diplomat to visit Egypt after decade-long tensions

Turkey’s foreign minister will travel to Cairo on Saturday in a further sign of thawing relations a decade after diplomatic links were cut by the overthrow of Egypt’s then president and Ankara’s ally Mohamed Mursi. The visit by Mevlut Cavusoglu will be the first time Turkey has sent its top diplomat there since Egypt’s army chief, now president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the ousting of Mursi in July 2013. “All aspects of our bilateral relations will be discussed, and views will be exchanged on regional and international issues,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said. The visit “inaugurates a path for restoring normal relationships between the two countries,” Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a simultaneous statement. The visit would launch a “deep dialogue” aiming to reach “a mutual understanding that achieves both countries’ interests,” the Egyptian ministry’s spokesperson added. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/top-turkish-diplomat-visit-egypt-after-decade-tension-2023-03-17/) It comes two weeks after Cavusoglu’s Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shourky, visited Turkey to show solidarity after the massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. There have been signs of a growing rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt in recent months.

Newsline: Foreign ambassadors were in Turkey during earthquake

Spokespeople for most of the ambassadors in question said they were in Turkey during the Feb. 6 earthquake, which killed more than 50,000 people. A spokesperson for the Federal Foreign Office of Germany; Marilyne Guèvremont, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada; and Wouter Poels, a spokesperson for the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told USA TODAY over email that the ambassadors were in Turkey at the time of the earthquake. “Both the Belgian ambassador to Turkey and the Belgian consul general in Istanbul were on Turkish territory that day,” said Poels. “All Belgian diplomatic and consular staff in Turkey were fully operational by 5 am on Feb. 6 to deal with the consequences of the earthquake.” (https://news.yahoo.com/fact-check-false-claim-numerous-160554980.html) Representatives for the French, Italian and Dutch embassies told AFP their ambassadors were in the country when the earthquake struck as well. The U.S. Embassy didn’t respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment and the U.K. Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the record. But U.S. ambassador Jeffry Flake shared a picture on Instagram of a flag at half-staff tagged in Ankara on Feb. 6, and he spoke on CNN from the city early the next morning.

Newsline: Turkey summons U.S. ambassador

Turkey on Monday summoned U.S. envoy Jeff Flake to convey its discomfort about a top U.S. general visiting northeast Syria over the weekend, a foreign ministry source said. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said later on Monday that Flake went to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for meetings and discussions. (https://neuters.de/world/turkey-summons-us-envoy-over-top-generals-syria-visit-2023-03-06/) Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made an unannounced visit on March 4 to review a nearly eight-year-old U.S. mission to an area controlled by the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Price told reporters it was the State Department’s understanding that Milley met only with U.S. troops while in Syria and referred to the Department of Defense for details.

Newsline: Claims that Western ambassadors ‘evacuated’ from Turkey before quake seen as conspiracy theories

Western embassies in Turkey have rubbished claims that they removed their ambassadors from the country shortly before a devastating earthquake on February 6, an accusation shared in social media posts spewing baseless conspiracy theories that the disaster was planned. Media reports and social media activities placed the ambassadors in the country around the time of the quake. “Planned demolition anybody,” reads a Facebook post shared on February 16. The post shows a tweet by US conspiracy theorist David Wolfe that says Canada, the United States, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland and France “pulled their ambassadors out of Turkey 24 hours before the earthquake”. (https://news.yahoo.com/baseless-claim-turkey-ambassadors-evacuated-092000040.html) Similar posts circulated around the world, including in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain, racking up thousands of shares. Some Facebook users appeared to link the claim to conspiracy theories that the 7.8-magnitude tremor that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria was man-made. Turkey is one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. A combination of factors made February’s tremor particularly deadly, including its timing, location and the weak construction of the collapsed buildings, according to experts.

Newsline: Egypt’s top diplomat visits Syria and Turkey first time in decade

Egypt’s foreign minister met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday in the first visits to Syria and Turkey by a top Egyptian diplomat in a decade. “The goal of the visit is primarily humanitarian, and to pass on our solidarity – from the leadership, the government and the people of Egypt to the people of Syria,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters in Damascus. Egypt was looking forward to providing more quake assistance “in full coordination with the Syrian government” after already having donated some 1,500 tonnes, Shoukry added, standing alongside Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad. “When the foreign minister of Egypt comes to Damascus, he comes to his home, his people, and his country,” Mekdad said. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/egypts-foreign-minister-visits-syria-first-time-since-war-2023-02-27/) The earthquake killed more than 5,900 people in Syria, the bulk of them in the rebel-held northwest. In Turkey, the death toll stands at more than 44,000. Assad has benefited from an outpouring of Arab support since devastating earthquakes hit his country and neighbouring Turkey this month, helping to ease the diplomatic isolation he has faced over Syria’s civil war which began in 2011. The Arab League suspended Syria in 2011 over the government’s deadly crackdown on protests, and many U.S.-allied Arab states backed the opposition seeking to topple Assad. But a number of Arab states, most prominently the United Arab Emirates, have shifted approach towards normalising ties in recent years, after Assad defeated his insurgent enemies across much of the country helped by Iran and Russia. Shoukry did not respond to reporters’ questions on whether Egypt would support lifting the Arab League’s suspension of Syria.

Newsline: US top diplomat urges speedy Nordics accession to NATO

Washington strongly supports Sweden and Finland’s quick NATO accession given steps they have already taken, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, even as his Turkish counterpart stressed the need for more concrete action. “Finland and Sweden have already taken concrete steps to fulfil the commitments that they met under the trilateral memorandum of agreement that they signed,” Blinken said. Reiterating that NATO’s Nordic expansion issue is not a bilateral one with Turkey, Blinken said the United States strongly supported Sweden and Finland’s accession into the alliance “as quickly as possible”. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/blinken-turkey-backs-speedy-nordics-accession-nato-2023-02-20/) But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, standing alongside Blinken, said all parties in the alliance must convince Sweden in particular to take more action to address Ankara’s concerns and win its support for the bid. Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the trans-Atlantic defence pact after Russia invaded Ukraine, but faced unexpected objections from Turkey. Ankara says Stockholm has harboured what Ankara calls members of terrorist groups. Turkey recently indicated it would approve only Finland for NATO membership.

Newsline: Turkey eyes earthquake diplomacy to mend Armenia ties

Humanitarian aid sent by Armenia for victims of last week’s devastating earthquake in Turkey could boost the neighbouring countries’ efforts to normalise their relations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday. A border gate between the long-feuding neighbours was opened for the first time in 35 years to allow aid for quake victims in southern Turkey. Armenia also sent a rescue team to Turkey to help in the search for survivors. “Armenia has extended its hand of friendship, showed solidarity and cooperation with us in this difficult time … We need to continue this solidarity,” Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference in Ankara with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan. Mirzoyan said through a translator that Armenia remained committed to “the full normalisation of relations and complete opening of the border with Turkey”. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/turkey-says-earthquake-diplomacy-could-help-mend-armenia-ties-2023-02-15/) Turkey severed its diplomatic and commercial ties with Armenia in 1993 to show support for Azerbaijan, which was at the time fighting a losing battle against Armenian separatists in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

Newsline: U.S. top diplomat tells Turkey to ‘let us know’ what U.S. can do after earthquake

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Turkish counterpart to “pick up the phone and let us know” what the United States can do to help after a huge earthquake hit the country on Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. The Biden administration’s top diplomat spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone following the earthquake that killed more than 2,700 people across a swathe of Turkey and northwest Syria. “It was so important for the secretary to speak to his foreign minister counterpart, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, in the first instance to offer condolences and to make clear…that anything Turkey needed that we could provide, they should pick up the phone and let us know,” Price said. (https://neuters.de/world/blinken-tells-turkey-let-us-know-what-us-can-do-after-earthquake-2023-02-06/) Blinken asked his senior staff on Monday morning to identify what funding might be available to help Turkey and NGOs working on the ground in Syria, Price said.