Finland’s prime minister calls Erdoğan’s envoy decision ‘regrettable’

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decision to declare ten foreign envoys “persona non grata” was "regrettable", the Associated Press reported on Sunday. 

“This is a very regrettable situation. We’ve considered it important that the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights are respected and complied with, and therefore have called for the release of this human rights activist,” Marin told public broadcaster YLE. 

On Saturday, Erdoğan said that he has ordered Turkey’s foreign ministry to declare ten foreign envoys persona non-grata over a statement calling for the release of civil society activist Osman Kavala. 

"They will recognize, understand and know Turkey. The day they don’t know or understand Turkey, they will leave,” said Erdoğan.

There has been some reporting that the foreign ministry has tried to walk back Erdoğan’s persona non grata order, but an advisor to the president suggests he may be unpersuaded.

"The President is very determined, he thinks that Turkey has been insulted in an unprecedented way," said chief advisor to the president, İlnur Çevik to the BBC Turkish Service.

Finland was among the ten states’ whose ambassador was singled out by Erdoğan for calling for Kavala’s release. The other nine included Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, The Netherlands, Norway, France, Germany and the United States. 

Marin said that her government was in touch with Turkish officials and was waiting for more information before "drawing any conclusions." 

A businessman and philanthropist, Kavala has been held in prison since 2017 despite never being convicted of a crime.

Last year, the 64-year-old was acquitted of charges linked to nationwide 2013 anti-government protests that started at Istanbul’s Gezi Park, but was remanded in custody hours later,  after the ruling was overturned and he was also charged with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government in connection with Turkey’s failed coup attempt of July 2016.

Kavala, who faces a life term in prison without parole if convicted, rejects all charges against him. The businessman’s trial has been condemned by Turkish and international human rights groups, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered his release. The Council of Europe has said it will begin infringement proceedings against Turkey if the businessman is not released.

 

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