Turkey's President backpedals on threat to expel 10 Western ambassadors

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reneged on his threat to expel the ambassadors of 10 Western nations over their support for a jailed activist.

The reversal came after France, Germany the United States and several other countries issued identical statements saying they respected a UN convention that required diplomats not to interfere in the host country's domestic affairs.

“We believe that these ambassadors, who have fulfilled their commitment to Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, will now be more careful in their statements,” Erdogan said in televised remarks following a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

"Our intention is absolutely not to create a crisis but to protect our honour, our pride, our sovereign rights.

“Anyone who doesn’t respect the independence of our country and the sensitivities of our nation, no matter what his title is, cannot be accommodated in this country.”

Detailed philanthropist

The envoys had last week called for the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been in a Turkish prison for four years awaiting trial on charges that many say are unfounded.

Among them were ambassadors from the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand.0

A group of about 40 pro-government protesters gathered near the US Embassy in Ankara on Monday demanding their removal.

The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala’s release in 2019, saying his incarceration acted to silence him and was not supported by evidence of an offence.

The Council of Europe says it will start infringement proceedings against Turkey at the end of November if Kavala is not freed.

Although Kavala’s continued incarceration has been widely criticized abroad, Turkey maintains he is being held according to the rulings of its independent judiciary.

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