Türkİye, World

Some Western countries' closure of Istanbul consulates 'deliberate': Turkish foreign minister

Countries should notify Türkiye if there is a terrorist threat, Mevlut Cavusoglu says, adding they are not sharing 'concrete' information, documents with Ankara

Diyar Guldogan  | 03.02.2023 - Update : 03.02.2023
Some Western countries' closure of Istanbul consulates 'deliberate': Turkish foreign minister


Criticizing the recent closure of some Western consulates in Istanbul, Türkiye’s top diplomat on Friday called the move “deliberate,” adding that the countries involved had not shared any information about what they called “security reasons.”

"We think this was deliberate," said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu about the closures. “This is exactly what we said by summoning the ambassadors to the ministry," he told a news conference in Istanbul with his Argentine counterpart Santiago Cafiero.

Cavusoglu's remarks came a day after Türkiye summoned ambassadors of Western countries, including the US, to criticize their decision to temporarily shut diplomatic missions and issue security alerts following recent burnings in Europe of Islam's holy book the Quran.

The ambassadors of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK were also summoned to the Foreign Ministry, according to Turkish diplomatic sources, adding that such simultaneous acts do not show a proportional and prudent approach, but instead only serve the "insidious agenda of terrorist groups."

"Why did they close their doors?” asked Cavusoglu. “They say there’s a terrorist threat. Now if there’s a terrorist threat, shouldn't they – especially if they are allies – tell us where this threat originated from?”

"They tell us, 'We have concrete information, there’s a threat. That's why we're closing.' Who did it come from? Where? Who will do it? There’s no information about that,” he explained.

“They must share this information with us, that is, to our security units, to our intelligence units, and if there is such a threat, it must be eliminated before it turns into an attack."

Those countries are not sharing "concrete" information and documents with Türkiye, he added.

On Thursday, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu also criticized the closures, noting that they came just as Türkiye had announced promising tourism figures, and saying the unexplained closures constituted “psychological warfare.”

'Türkiye stepped up measures to protect missions'

Cavusoglu also criticized countries that try to give the impression that Türkiye is unstable or that there is a terrorist threat in Türkiye, saying: "This does not suit friendship or alliance."

If they are trying to get the country into a difficult situation before the general elections (expected this May), Türkiye knows very well what is behind it, he added.

Stressing that the countries should not serve the "insidious" agendas of terrorist groups, Cavusoglu said Ankara expects honesty and sincerity.

On Türkiye's determined fight against terror groups, including the PKK and Daesh/ISIS, he said the Interior Ministry has stepped up security measures, especially for the missions of some countries, after recent burnings of the Quran.

"We’re already taking measures. We’re sensitive to these issues. Because our obligation is to protect these missions.

"But we also see some European countries that have nothing to do with this incident, and they are also closing (their consulates). In other words, we also know that some countries are telling others to join this closure action. We also have such information," he added.

Türkiye has issued the needed warning, Cavusoglu said, adding: "After that, if they resort to such methods without sharing concrete information and documents, there will be additional steps we will take towards them.

Relations with Argentina

Cavusoglu said he and his Argentine counterpart Cafiero discussed the bilateral relations in detail, adding that Türkiye and Argentina can enhance cooperation in the fields of the defense industry, energy, science, culture, fight against terrorism, and environment.

Cavusoglu said that Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAS) and Argentina-based INVAP have established a joint company, and they will produce and export new-generation communication satellites together.

"We believe that this Turkish-Argentine partnership will develop further. These satellites will meet the communication needs of not only Argentina but also third countries," he added.

Türkiye wants to sign a free trade agreement with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and start exploratory talks on this issue, and they need Argentina's support to start these negotiations, Cavusoglu said.

He noted that Türkiye's trade with the Latin American region also increased rapidly, saying: "We increased from approximately $1 billion to $17.5 billion."

Turning to the global food crisis and Istanbul grain initiative, Cavusoglu said that in mid-March, the second four-month period of the grain deal will end.

Last July, Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports which were paused after the Russia-Ukraine war began in February 2022.

"We are already working to extend it again, or even longer. We know how important this is for world food security. We know very well its importance, especially for the least developed countries," Cavusoglu said.

For his part, Cafiero hailed Türkiye's role in the Black Sea grain corridor to resume Ukrainian grain exports, which was stuck after the Russia-Ukraine war that began in 2022.

"We greatly appreciate Türkiye's role here. We especially appreciate the support of the grain corridor and the food coming from Ukraine, and the world is aware of this. We talked about that too. This leadership role is necessary for all of us," he said.

Even though Argentina is geographically distant, the minister said the country is sensitive to the war, adding: "In particular, we observe the outcomes of the war. Of course, we see that there are big global effects here, such as the rise in energy prices, the rise in food prices, the lack of fertilizers."

Developments in the South Caucasus were also on the agenda. The ministers also exchanged views on the normalization process between Türkiye and Armenia.

Within the scope of the meeting, the ministers signed a cooperation protocol in the fields of science, technology, and innovation.

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