Turkey has called the ambassadors of nine Western countries to account for the closure of their consulates, the Turkish state news agency ‘Anadolu’ reports. The countries closed their consulates in recent days due to an increased threat of attacks. There is anger in Turkey against Western diplomats after protests with Koran burnings and dismemberments in Stockholm and The Hague, among others.
The French press agency ‘AFP’ writes on the basis of a diplomatic source, who wishes to remain anonymous, that it concerns the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, but also Belgium. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not confirm the news for the time being.
At least six of the countries involved, according to ‘AFP’, announced earlier this week that they would temporarily close their consulate in Istanbul or the embassy in Ankara due to an increased risk of an attack, following the various Islamophobic actions in Europe. For example, Korans were burned in several places during anti-Turkish protests. The US and France had also recommended avoiding various tourist attractions, such as Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu accuses the nine countries of waging “a psychological war” against Turkey. He warns that the tourism sector in Turkey could bear the brunt of the closure of consulates. According to the country, there is a conspiracy to kill the Turkish tourism sector.
“Just the day we presented our goal of attracting 60 million tourists, at a time when we get 50.5 million, they are about to start another psychological war against Turkey,” said the interior minister. The spokesperson for the AKP, the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also called the warnings from Western countries “irresponsible”.
The far-right extremist who carried out the Koran burnings in Stockholm and Copenhagen claims to be protesting Turkey’s veto of Sweden’s entry into NATO.
Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib confirms that today the Belgian ambassador, together with a number of other ambassadors, has been “invited for an open discussion about the security situation in Istanbul and the temporary closure of some consulates”.
“Our country has a duty to protect our staff and visitors in the event of a potential threat. If other Western countries decide to close down, it is appropriate in the current situation to join us. The closure is temporary,” the minister clarifies.
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