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Turkey summons Western envoys in consulate closure row

#Turkey #summons #Western #envoys #consulate #closure #row

Turkey on Thursday summoned the ambassadors and top envoys of nine Western powers to condemn the mass closure of European consulates in Istanbul due to security concerns.

The United States and several European nations have advised citizens not to attend mass events and to avoid tourist hotspots because of a heightened terror threat.

At least seven European countries have temporarily closed their Istanbul consulates to the general public as a precaution.

The US consulate remains open because it is far removed from the city centre and less vulnerable to an attack.

The security warnings came during a spike in diplomatic tensions linked to Turkey’s refusal to let Sweden and Finland join the US-led NATO defence bloc.

These have been exacerbated by protests at which an anti-Islamic extremist burned copies of the Koran outside Ankara’s embassies in Stockholm and Copenhagen last month.

Turkish officials have voiced growing frustration with the Western security alerts.

Turkish police acted on the intelligence of one unnamed Western power and made several arrests earlier this week, but found no weapons.

Ankara issued a travel warning for the United States and Europe in what appeared to be retaliation last weekend.

A diplomatic source said the ambassadors and senior representatives of Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States attended the foreign ministry meeting.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Thursday condemned the Western closures as an attempt to meddle in Turkey’s May 14 presidential and parliament election campaign.

He and other officials suggested that the Western powers had issued the security warnings to pressure Turkey to tone down its criticism of the Koran protests and resolve the NATO dispute.

“They are waging psychological war against Turkey,” Soylu told NTV television. “They are trying to destabilise Turkey.”

The chief spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party accused the West of making “irresponsible statements”.

“Some embassies and consulates are making statements to raise concerns about our country’s security conditions,” party spokesman Omer Celik tweeted.

“This type of irresponsible behaviour is unacceptable.”

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