Turkish President declares 10 Western ambassadors persona non grata over appeal for Osman Kavala

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared 10 Western ambassadors as persona non grata in the dispute over the imprisoned civil rights Osman Kavala.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared 10 Western ambassadors, including the German, American, French and Netherlands ones, as persona non grata. The decision came after the ten ambassadors expressed their concern and asked for the release of civil rights activist Osman Kavala.

“I gave the order to our Foreign Minister. I said, take care of declaring these ten ambassadors as persona non grata as soon as possible,” said Erdoğan on Saturday at a park opening in Eskişehir, central Anatolia.

In diplomacy, this counts as the announcement of expulsion. In his usual robust language, Erdoğan said, addressing the ambassadors: “Are you entitled to teach Turkey a lesson? Who are you anyway? "

Dispute over appeal for the release of Kavala

The ambassadors of the USA as well as Germany, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Norway and New Zealand issued a joint appeal earlier this week for the release of the civil rights activist Osman Kavala. As a result, Ankara summoned the ambassadors on 19 October and threatened to expel them. The Turkish leadership described the countries' call to release Kavala as "unacceptable". Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu even accused the ambassadors of “improperly interfering with ongoing judicial proceedings”. The demand for the release of Kavala, he said, “cast a shadow over the diplomatic representatives' understanding of law and democracy.”

In jail without a sentence

Osman Kavala has been behind bars for four years without being convicted. The European Court of Human Rights has already called for his immediate release in 2019. Turkey ignores the verdict. Last September, the Council of Europe threatened Turkey with disciplinary action, citing the ECHR judgment if it does not release Kavala by the end of November. In the case of the Kurdish HDP politician Selahattin Demirtaş, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also disregarded the judgments of the ECHR.

Land faces economic abyss

It remains to be seen whether the diplomats will actually be expelled. Perhaps the anger of the head of state in Ankara testifies to his increasing nervousness. Given the fall of the Turkish lira due to the recent rate cut and galloping inflation, the country is facing an economic abyss. A population that no longer knows what to use to pay for food and rent can quickly revolt and will no longer allow itself to be fobbed off with tea bags given as a gift.

Added to this are the isolation in Turkey’s foreign policy and the setbacks in the war of occupation in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq). The fact that the well-armed Turkish army is powerless against the guerrillas of HPG and YJA Star and that even the internationally banned use of chemical weapons cannot break the resistance of the PKK is likely to make the Turkish president increasingly nervous and therefore unpredictable.