Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he's now given the orders to declare 10 Western ambassadors persona non grata "as soon as possible" - however it's unclear whether this means they'll be forced to leave the country.
"I told my foreign minister to declare these 10 ambassadors as persona non grata as soon as possible," Erdogan said in fresh statements. The day prior he had lashed out at the United States and European countries for their joint statement Monday demanding the immediate release of billionaire philanthropist and businessman Osman Kavala, who has been in Turkish custody since 2017.
BREAKING — Erdogan says he will expel 10 Western ambassadors as soon as possible— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) October 23, 2021
Ambassadors of Germany, France, UK, Canada among them
The persona non grata designation is against the ambassadors of US, Germany, France, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand.
According to Germany's Deutsche Welle:
The Turkish president did not clarify whether his order meant that the diplomats — who he accused of "indecency" — would be ordered to leave the country.
However, he added that: "They must leave here the day they no longer know Turkey."
The prior joint statement the countries had signed lambasted Turkey over human rights violations connected with the Kavala case, and further charged Turkey with backsliding in democracy and the legal rights of citizens. On Friday Erdogan lambasted the demand, saying "Those who defend this Soros leftover are trying to get him released. I told our foreign minister that we cannot afford to host them in our country." He questioned, "Why would the 10 ambassadors make such a statement?"
He said as cited in Anadolu Agency: "How dare you teach such a lesson to Turkey? Who are you? What do they say? 'Release Kavala.' Do you leave the bandits, murderers, terrorists in your own countries?"
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday had summoned an unprecedented ten diplomats to discuss and protest the matter. They were reportedly told the joint statement "irresponsible" and "unacceptable".
Kavala's supporters, meanwhile, have long said the charges against him are purely politically motivated. The 64-year old was initially arrested in October 2017, and the Turkish state heaped an array of charges on him which included supporting the Gezi protests in 2013 and even allegations of participation in the failed coup of 2016.
As of today, Osman Kavala has been detained for four years. His ongoing case has cast a shadow over democracy and rule of law in Turkey.— U.S. Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) October 18, 2021
Today, the United States together with 🇩🇪🇫🇷🇳🇿🇨🇦🇫🇮🇸🇪🇳🇴🇩🇰call for his release! See our full statement here: https://t.co/fCs5Lk5BCW pic.twitter.com/eyOq1loSM3
At a rally on Saturday Erdogan mocked Kavala's supporters...
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:— Serhat (@muhavsk) October 23, 2021
“Yatıyorlar kalkıyorlar Kavala, Kavala. Kavala dediğin Soros'un Türkiye şubesi. 10 tane büyükelçi onun için Dışişleri Bakanlığına geliyor. Bu ne terbiyesizliktir. Burası Türkiye.” pic.twitter.com/dn2eeCGEww
Erdogan's calling him a "Soros leftover" is due to the AK Parti seeing him as a malevolent and subversive figure intent on using his extensive wealth and influence to overthrow their rule via whipping up popular anger in the streets. Kavala has reportedly been held for years in appalling conditions without trial or recourse through the judicial system.