Originally published: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20211025IPR15735/turkey-a-serious-diplomatic-crisis-that-can-still-be-avoided

25 October 2021 | European Parliament

The announcement that ten ambassadors have been expelled from Turkey can only be understood as an attempt to divert attention from the real urgent issues, state MEPs.

Parliament Standing Rapporteur for Turkey Nacho Sánchez Amor (S&D, ES) and the Chair of the EU-Turkey Parliamentary Delegation Sergey Lagodinsky (Greens/EFA, DE) issued the following statement in reaction to President Erdoğan’s instruction to the foreign minister to declare ten ambassadors persona non grata over their statement on the ongoing case of businessman Osman Kavala.

“The measures announced by President Erdoğan against 10 ambassadors over their statement on the ongoing persecution of businessman Osman Kavala are incomprehensible and completely baseless. We can only understand them as an attempt to divert attention from the real urgent issues, domestic and bilateral. 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. Turkey is therefore obliged to respect this Court’s decision, just as it is under the obligation to follow a similar ruling on Selahattin Demirtaş.

Rule of law and fair trial guarantees are foundational pillars of any democracy. As repeatedly underlined by reports of the European Commission and the Council of Europe, and stressed in the Annual Report of the European Parliament, Turkey has a serious deficit in these fields that needs urgent correction. Those problems are addressed by comprehensive reforms, not by sanctions against those who merely demand what the European Court of Human Rights had clearly stated. It is unacceptable that attacks on critical voices and interference with the judiciary have continuously been happening in Turkey. It is more than unfortunate that now an attempt has been made to silence the criticism from abroad. Our position on Osman Kavala’s case and criticism of other democracy deficits in Turkey will remain undeterred despite this sad development.

We are on the verge of a serious diplomatic crisis that can still be averted. We call on Turkish authorities to refrain from steps that could result in an even worse scenario in our relations than the difficult period we have been living through during the recent years, a crisis that we just were hoping to overcome. Once again, we call on Turkey to comply with its international commitments and abide by the ECtHR rulings with regard, among others, to the cases of Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş.

We urge the European Union to coordinate a joint reaction and while still possible encourage Turkish counterparts to de-escalate.”

Background

President Erdoğan announced on Saturday that he had given the order to Turkey’s Foreign Minister to declare the Ambassadors of ten countries “persona non grata.” The ten countries are Canada, France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America. President Erdoğan wants the ambassadors expelled after the ten countries in question urged the Government to release Turkish activist Osman Kavala, who has been a political prisoner in the country for almost four years, without conviction.

On 8 October, the Foreign Affairs Committee Standing Rapporteur for Turkey Nacho Sanchez Amor (S&D, ES) was in Turkey and attended Mr Kavala’s trial in a show of solidarity.

MEP contacts:

Office of Mr Nacho Sanchez-Amor, rapporteur for Turkey, tel. +32 2 284 58 62, e-mail: [email protected]

Office of Mr Sergey Lagodinsky, chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), tel. +32 2 284 59 12, e-mail: [email protected]