White House ‘will continue to engage in dialogue to address any disagreements’ with Turkey
Turkey has climbed down from a full-blown diplomatic crisis after earlier threatening to expel 10 ambassadors in a row over international support for a jailed philanthropist.
President Tayyip Erdogan, who at the weekend ordered the diplomats to be declared “persona non grata”, said the ten countries had “stepped back” from their demands.
The ambassadors, including one from the United States, had called on authorities last week to free Osman Kavala, a philanthropist detained for four years on charges of financing protests and involvement in an attempted coup. He denies the charges.
The public call infuriated Ankara, which said the diplomats – also from Germany, França, Canadá, Países Baixos, Nova Zelândia, Noruega, Suécia, Denmark and Finland – were interfering in Turkey’s internal affairs.
As Erdogan convened his ministers on Monday afternoon for a session which could have confirmed the expulsions and triggered the deepest rift with the West in his 19 years in power, several embassies put out a brief statement.
“The United States notes that it maintains compliance with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” os EUA. Embassy said on Twitter. The other embassies published similar messages or re-tweeted the U.S. mensagem.
A Turkish version of the U.S. statement said the embassy “confirma” compliance with the convention, which some observers said could be read to suggest that the embassies were pledging future compliance.
“Strategic ambiguity at work … allows Erdogan’s spin doctors to claim that the West has surrendered, while the English version gives the impression back home that the West has stood its ground,” said former opposition parliamentarian Aykan Erdemir on Twitter.
The US State Department said Monday’s statement on Twitter meant “to underscore that the statement that we put out on October 18 was consistent with Article 41”, adding it would pursue dialogue with Turkey.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to promoting the rule of law, to promoting respect for human rights globally,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
“The Biden administration seeks cooperation with Turkey on common priorities, and as with any NATO ally, we will continue to engage in dialogue to address any disagreements.”
A diplomatic source said talks on a plan to reduce tensions were led by the U.S. mission and Turkish officials, including presidential adviser and spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The envoys aimed to highlight Vienna Convention principles while seeking guidance from Turkish officials on what move might be “palatable” for Erdogan, the source said, adding they were cautiously hopeful that the Twitter statements would help ease tensions even if the Turkish government gave no assurances.
Kavala, a businessman and contributor to civil society groups, is charged with financing nationwide protests in 2013 and involvement in a failed coup in 2016. He has been held in detention while his trial continues.
Rights groups say his case is emblematic of a crackdown on dissent under Erdogan. Kavala said on Friday he would no longer attend his trial, as a fair hearing was impossible after recent comments by the president.
The European Convention of Human Rights called for Mr Kavala’s release two years ago after finding there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed the crimes and accused Turkey of detaining him to silence him.
The next hearing in Mr Kavala’s trial is on November 26.