Erdogan ready for diplomatic crisis over opponent Osman Kavala

Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems ready to deteriorate Turkey’s relations with several Western countries, over an opponent who has been imprisoned for four years without trial, Osman Kavala. The Turkish president said on Saturday 23 October that the ambassadors of ten countries including France, Germany and the United States, which had recently appealed for the release of this publisher and patron, will be declared “Persona non grata”.

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“I ordered our Minister of Foreign Affairs to settle as quickly as possible the declaration of these ten ambassadors as persona non grata”, said the head of state during a trip to central Turkey, without giving a precise date. The other seven countries concerned are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Sweden.

These ambassadors “Must know and understand Turkey”, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing them “Indecency”. “They will have to leave” the country “If they don’t know him anymore”, he added.

Joint press release

The ten ambassadors, including the representative of France, Hervé Magro, had issued a joint statement Monday, October 18 in which they demanded a “fair and rapid settlement of the Kavala affair”. They considered in particular that ” the persistent delay (taken by) his trial casts a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and transparency of the Turkish judicial system “. As early as Tuesday, they had been summoned by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

It has been several years since the fate of Osman Kavala has been scrutinized by the international community. In December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered his “immediate release”. On September 17, 2021, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, an intergovernmental organization which brings together 47 countries and which sits in Strasbourg, ordered Turkey to release him. It intends to initiate a sanctions procedure if this is not done before its next session, from November 2 to December 2.

Gezi Park events

Osman Kavala came into the sights of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2013, when he supported a large wave of anti-regime protests born out of the defense of Gezi Park, in the heart of Istanbul. This earned him initial prosecutions and a trial which, however, resulted in his acquittal in February 2020.

But that day, he was immediately the subject of a new arrest warrant, this time as part of an investigation related to the attempted coup against the Turkish president, in 2016. Accused of having sought to “overthrow the government” and spy, he risks life in prison.

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In a recent interview with Agence France-Presse, from his cell, via his lawyer, Osman Kavala believes that his imprisonment aims to allow the power of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to justify ” his conspiracy theses “.

For me, the real reason for my prolonged detention is the government’s need to fuel the fiction of a foreign plot behind the Gezi protests., he explains. Since I am accused of taking part in a conspiracy organized by foreign powers, releasing myself would weaken this fiction. The conspiratorial discourse around the events of Gezi has since served as a frame of reference to criminalize any form of protest, in particular student demonstrations. “.

The economy is deteriorating

After the 2016 coup attempt, thousands of opponents and activists were also arrested and massive purges targeted the army, the judiciary, the civil service and the university.

The fate of Osman Kavala thus appears as an indicator of the hardening of the regime in the run-up to the presidential election of 2023. The economic situation in Turkey is deteriorating with a surge in inflation, a rise in unemployment and growing difficulties. for the middle class. The entourage of President Erdogan is the subject of heavy suspicion of corruption.

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Turkey was also placed on October 21 on the ” gray list Of the FATF, the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body whose secretariat is hosted by the OECD. The countries there, such as Panama, Syria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe are accused of failing to meet their obligations in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Many in Turkey believe that Recep Tayyip Erdogan cannot risk losing power because then he would likely face criminal prosecution. The hypothesis of a change of government would be for him and for his party, the AKP, in business since 2002, extremely disturbing. Hence a systematically brutal rhetoric against all oppositions.

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