EU Parliament warns Turkey over envoy row
The European Parliament on Monday issued a statement on Turkey’s announcement of plans to expel 10 ambassadors from the country, calling such a move "incomprehensible and completely baseless.’’

The measures announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are an "attempt to divert attention from the real urgent issues, domestic and bilateral,’’ the statement by the EP’s Turkey Rapporteur Nacho Sánchez Amor and the Chair of the EU-Turkey Parliamentary Delegation Sergey Lagodinsky said.

Erdogan said Saturday said that he had ordered 10 foreign ambassadors, who called for the release of jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala, to be declared persona non grata, a diplomatic term that signifies the first step before expulsion.

The ambassadors of the United States, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden on Monday of last week called for a “just and speedy resolution’’ to the case of Kavala, who has been detained in prison without conviction for four years.

 “It is not these Ambassadors or their governments who decided it is Turkey’s responsibility to release Osman Kavala. It is the European Court of Human Rights that ordered his immediate release in December 2019, reiterated afterwards by six decisions and an interim resolution by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe,’’ according to the statement. “Turkey is therefore obliged to respect this Court's decision.’’

Kavala, 64, was acquitted last year of charges linked to nationwide anti-government protests in 2013, but the ruling was overturned and joined to charges relating to the failed coup attempt of 2016.

The businessman’s trial has been condemned by Turkish and international human rights groups, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered his release. The Council of Europe has said it will begin infringement proceedings against Turkey if the businessman is not released.

The EP on Monday called on Turkish authorities to “refrain from steps that could result in an even worse scenario in our relations,’’

and urged the country to comply with its international commitments and abide by ECHR rulings.

 “We urge the European Union to coordinate a joint reaction and while still possible encourage Turkish counterparts to de-escalate,’’ the statement concluded.

Meanwhile Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu threatened to step down after Erdogan vowed to render “persona non grata” the ambassadors, Deutsche Welle reported.

Cavusoglu, who was in South Korea when Erdogan 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 Koylu reported in the publication's Turkish language edition.

“If the ambassadors are declared persona non grata, I will be forced to leave the ministry," Cavusoglu told Erdogan. The president replied that there was nothing he could do, according to the report, which did not say how the information was obtained.

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