Ambassadors “Persona Non-Grata”: Turkey’s National Interests, Foreign Policy or Political Considerations?

Source: Al Mayadeen

26 OCTOBER 2021

Ruqiya Anwar

Turkish businessman Kavala has been in prison for four years for his suspected role in the Gezi Park protests and his involvement in a failed coup attempt in 2016.

Osman Kavala

This research note discusses that the Turkish businessman Kavala has been in prison for four years for his suspected role in the Gezi Park protests and his involvement in a failed coup attempt in 2016. Kavala is one of Turkey’s most well-known civil society figures. Since the early 1980s, the billionaire has helped to establish multiple publishing enterprises in Turkey, and a decade later, he has supported numerous civil society organizations. 

Osman Kavala was one of Turkey’s most prominent activists. He has been held in pre-trial imprisonment in Silivri Prison since October 2017. Authorities in Turkey accuse him of initiating the Gezi Park demonstrations in 2013.

Significantly, President Erdogan has accused him of being the Turkish leg of billionaire US philanthropist George Soros, whom he claims is behind insurgencies in several nations. He has been held in detention pending the outcome of his latest trial, and he has rejected the charges. 

Whereas, the indictment of September 2020, according to Kavala’s lawyers, was nothing more than a presumed fantasy based on no real evidence. Human rights organizations around the world have slammed Kavala’s arrest, claiming the charges are politically motivated. Additionally, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that Kavala’s arrest was politically motivated and it was carried out with the goal of “bringing other human rights defenders, to the political prisoners.” (DW, 2021).

Following a similar line, the Council of Europe has given a warning to Turkey to comply with a European Court of Human Rights ruling to free Kavala pending trial, which was issued in 2019. Otherwise, it will file an infringement complaint against Turkey.

The ambassadors of the ten nations issued a unified statement urging Turkey to abide by the Council of Europe’s judgments. Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the United States all requested a “fair and swift” settlement to Kavala’s case (DW, 2021).

They further stressed, “The ongoing delays in Kaval’s trial, which include the merging of many cases and the establishment of new ones following a prior acquittal, throw a pall over Turkish court respect for democracy, the rule of law, and transparency. In light of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment, they requested Turkey to release it as soon as possible. These ambassadors  demanded a fair and expeditious settlement to his case under Turkey’s international responsibilities and domestic legislation.”

Most importantly, Kavala who has been imprisoned since 2017, has been frequently demanded their release by international observers and human rights organizations. They claim that the detention is due to political concerns. While the officials deny the allegations and maintain that Turkish courts are independent.

While the Turkish government views the ambassadors’ declaration as direct involvement in domestic politics. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the diplomats’ behavior and threatened to expel them from the country. In an intensifying disagreement with the countries, who intervened in the case of a detained businessman by demanding his release.

After their statement demanding the release of Osman Kavala, President Erdogan authorized the Turkish foreign minister to proclaim the ambassadors of ten nations to Turkey “persona non grata”. Notably, when a diplomat is declared persona non grata, they are banned in their host country and they are now just one step away from expulsion.

In a speech, Erdogan remarked, “I have directed our foreign minister to expedite the declaration of these ten ambassadors,” These ten ambassadors must be declared persona non grata. They will be familiar with and understand Turkey”. He went on to say that these ambassadors would not release “terrorists” in their nations if they did not know and understand them (Arab News, 2021).

For this reason, tensions between Ankara and the United States, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and New Zealand soared over  Turkey’s president proclaimed the envoys “persona non grata.”

Moreover, the ambassadors had been instructed to “keep within the responsibilities of their duties after an insincere and double-standard approach and It was highlighted in our constitution that Turkey is a democratic state of law that protects human rights, and it was reminded that such reckless utterances would not affect the Turkish court”.

The government further noted that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgments are frequently disregarded and not followed, claiming that focusing solely on Turkish cases to keep the Kavala case on the table at all times is ineffective (DW, 2021).

Whereas, former Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan and senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, Alper Coskun, tweeted, “Expelling ambassadors is not a good strategy to protect national interests. Turkey’s isolation has been exacerbated by its rash foreign policy aimed at domestic politics” (Arab News, 2021).The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Turkey’s Planned Expulsion Of 10 Western Ambassadors Is A Huge Diplomatic Move

25 OCTOBER 2021

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Turkey

Simply denouncing them but declining to take any tangible action would have made President Erdogan look weak in everyone’s eyes unless they recanted their joint statement and apologized. He couldn’t afford to do that even though he must also have expected that Western pressure against him personally and his country more broadly will soon intensify as a result.

Turkish President Erdogan announced over the weekend that he instructed his Foreign Minister to declare 10 Western ambassadors persona non grata after they meddled in his country’s foreign affairs by releasing a joint statement demanding the release of a jailed businessman who they consider to be a “political prisoner”. This is a huge diplomatic move that will reverberate for some time to come. It shows that Turkey has zero tolerance for such high-profile foreign meddling and is ready to accept the potential political consequences for expelling the Canadian, Danish, Dutch, Finish, French, German, New Zealander, Norwegian, Swedish, and US Ambassadors.

Those diplomats must have predicted that the Turkish President would react in a similar way to how he ultimately did. This implies that they planned their joint statement as a political provocation intended to catalyze a self-sustaining cycle of escalations between their countries and Turkey. The purpose of doing so is to prompt the pretext for intensifying their information warfare against him and potentially threatening sanctions, whether on that basis or a different one.

Those diplomats’ countries probably also wanted to manipulate their people’s perceptions about Turkey by making it seem like it’s “anti-Western” and “despotic”. The planned expulsion of so many ambassadors of such influential countries will certainly provoke a diplomatic crisis. It’ll likely generate incredibly hostile coverage by the Western Mainstream Media too. In other words, all of this is part of the US-led Hybrid War on Turkey which aims to punish the country for its increasingly independent foreign policy in recent years.

From the Turkish perspective, it’s unacceptable to let those diplomats meddle in such a blatant way, especially regarding a jailed figure who they consider to be a “political prisoner”. Simply denouncing them but declining to take any tangible action would have made President Erdogan look weak in everyone’s eyes unless they recanted their joint statement and apologized. He couldn’t afford to do that even though he must also have expected that Western pressure against him personally and his country more broadly will soon intensify as a result.

From a larger viewpoint, Turkey is setting an example for other non-Western nations to follow. Not all of them are as confident as that country is nor might they have the “Democratic Security” capabilities to adequately defend themselves from the predicted intensification of US-led Hybrid Wars against them under such pretexts, but they might still be inspired by this huge diplomatic move. After all, a pivotal pillar of Turkish foreign policy is to present itself as a model for others to emulate, especially in the Global South and most recently in Africa.

Looking forward, Turkish-Western relations will likely continue to deteriorate. There’s a chance that the ambassadors who Turkey plans to expel might eventually return or be replaced after some time, but that probably won’t happen in the near future if the country does indeed go through with what its leader just threatened. The overall impact of this trend will be to accelerate Turkey’s proactive engagement with its new non-Western partners, with a priority given to Russia and China.

That development could be manipulated through information warfare means to reinforce the false narrative that Turkey is “anti-Western” even though it would just be pragmatically reacting to Western political provocations. Nevertheless, closer Turkish ties with Russia and China could fuel the intensification of the US-led Hybrid War against it through geopolitical fearmongering about that country’s grand strategic intentions. For this reason, Ankara must brace itself for myriad destabilization attempts ahead of the summer 2023 elections.

It’s impossible to predict the exact forms that they could take at this moment, but they’ll likely be comprehensive and thus involve economic, information, political, and perhaps even security plots. President Erdogan is increasingly portrayed by the Western Mainstream Media as a so-called “rogue” leader, the misleading perception of which will be exploited to intensify the US-led Hybrid War. He’s unlikely to capitulate to their political demands related to his foreign policy but he’s likely still interested in bargaining with them.

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Finnish President on Afghanistan: The West Has Failed

 

Finnish President on Afghanistan: The West Has Failed 

By Staff, Agencies 

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto viewed that Taliban’s rapid conquest of Afghanistan as a sign of failure on the part of the West, which did not succeed in building a democratic government and a democratic society in the country.

“The lesson we must learn from this is that it is quite difficult to introduce a completely new social structure and social thinking to another place. It takes many generations,” Niinisto said.

He further refused to comment on whether he sees entering Afghanistan in 2001 or leaving it now in 2021 as a mistake, emphasizing instead that bringing about change in society is more difficult than previously thought.

“I would not [like to] talk about mistakes. The conclusion is that it was a goal that was not achieved. From the beginning, there was a belief that everything would go in a good direction. Now we are faced with the truth that it is very difficult to change an entire country”, Niinisto said.

In parallel, the Finnish President stressed that the Taliban movement was constantly active in Afghanistan and was well prepared.

According to him, the immediate consequence of the situation in Afghanistan will be a likely wave of refugees leaving the country. However, Niinisto mused that it is still impossible to make accurate predictions about their numbers and destinations.

“So we must take a stand on the question of how many refugees Finland and Europe can receive so that good integration can be achieved,” Niinisto said with a likely reference to the migrant crisis of 2015, when Europe received 1.2 million asylum seekers in a single year, the highest since World War II.

Another relevant issue, according to Niinisto, is what stance the Taliban will assume after coming to power.

Iran Not Interested In Renewing Nuclear Talks with US – Zarif

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic has no interest in engaging in a fresh round of nuclear talks with the United States, over a year after Washington unilaterally withdrew from a previous landmark agreement reached between Iran and six world powers in 2015.

“Iran is not interested in negotiations with the United States to clinch a new nuclear accord,” Zarif said in a joint press conference with Finland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto in Helsinki on Monday, adding, “We had detailed negotiations with the United States and it was not us who left the negotiating table.”

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

Since May, Iran has been suspending some of its commitments under the nuclear deal. Tehran rowed back on its nuclear commitments twice in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.

Earlier this month, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran [AEOI], Behrouz Kamalvandi, said earlier this month that the country would take the third step in scaling back its commitments under the JCPOA “in a matter of a month” if European signatories to the agreement continue to renege on their obligations.

“If the opposite side fails to live up to its commitments in the remaining one month [set as a deadline], the third phase of reducing JCPOA obligations will start as per what the president has previously declared in his capacity as head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council,” Kamalvandi said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif said, “There is no agreement that would satisfy all parties. It would suffice if nobody would disagree with an agreement.”

Zarif added that if there ever was going to be any mediation between Iran and the United States over the nuclear deal, “it must primarily focus on how to make Washington resume fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA.”

He emphasized that the Islamic Republic is always ready for negotiations and interaction, but it is against raising human rights issues to achieve political goals.

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