xi's moments
Home | Europe

Row between Turkey and the West worsens

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-10-26 09:09

A screen shows rates at a currency exchange agency near Taksim square in Istanbul on Oct 25, 2021, as the lira touched new historic lows. [Photo/Agencies]

Erdogan accused of ordering expulsions to divert attention from weak economy

The Turkish lira fell fast in early Monday trading after Ankara set wheels in motion to expel 10 Western diplomats in a row over the detention of businessman Osman Kavala.

The slide took the lira to a record low against the United States' dollar and followed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announcing on Saturday he was ordering the expulsion of ambassadors from Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the US.

The nations had called for the release pending trial of businessman Osman Kavala, who had been detained without trial for four years.

The news service Al Jazeera said there was no immediate sign of Turkey's foreign ministry acting on the order to expel the diplomats.

The agency said the row amounts to the deepest rift between Turkey and the West in Erdogan's 19 years in power.

Al Jazeera said Erdogan's foes claimed the lira was in trouble before the expulsions and that he engineered the row to distract attention from his handling of the economy.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition, the CHP, said on Twitter Erdogan was "rapidly dragging the country to a precipice".

"The reason for these moves is not to protect national interests but to create artificial reasons for the ruining of the economy," he wrote.

Tim Ash, a veteran emerging-market watcher from BlueBay Asset Management, told Al Jazeera: "I worry… for Turkish financial markets …The lira will inevitably come under extreme selling pressure."

Ash said the nation's central bank is discouraged from hiking interest rates, "so the only defense will be spending foreign exchange reserves the (bank) does not have".

The lira hit record lows last week, before the expulsions were ordered, after the central bank cut its policy rate by 200 basis points, despite rising inflation.

The BBC said Erdogan's declaration that the 10 ambassadors were "persona non grata" followed a joint statement from them calling for Kavala's immediate release. The Council of Europe, the European Union's human rights watchdog, had also told Turkey to release Kavala pending a trial, as had the European Court of Human Rights.

Erdogan, however, said the ambassadors, seven of whom are from fellow NATO nations, "cannot dare to come to the Turkish foreign ministry and give orders".

"I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done," Turkish media quoted Erdogan as saying. "These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata at once."

Norway's foreign ministry responded by telling the Reuters news agency its envoy had "not done anything that warrants an expulsion".

Kavala, who denies any wrongdoing, has been charged in connection with a failed military coup in 2016, The Guardian newspaper said, and in connection with the 2013 Gezi park protests.

The Guardian said relations between Turkey and Europe will hit an all-time low if Erdogan follows through on his threat.

The Times newspaper said Erdogan is performing poorly in opinion polls, due largely to the depreciating lira and soaring inflation, and could be trying to shore up his grassroots support ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections in 2023.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349