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Archive for Turkey

Newsline: Former Kyrgyz Diplomat Implicated In Customs-Fraud Case Freed From Custody

A former Kyrgyz diplomat mentioned in investigations into the high-profile killing in Istanbul of a Chinese citizen of Uyghur origin, whose statements to reporters led to a corruption scandal that shook the country in November, has been fined and released from custody. A spokeswoman for Bishkek’s Birinchi Mai district court, Aizada Momunova, told RFE/RL that the former consul-general in Istanbul, Erkin Sopokov, was ordered to pay 300,000 soms ($3,920) but given no jail time. (https://www.rferl.org/a/former-kyrgyz-diplomat-implicated-in-customs-fraud-case-freed-from-custody/30745565.html) There was no official announcement about Sopokov’s verdict and sentence at the time. The court’s website said on July 24 that Sopokov made a deal with investigators and pleaded guilty to abuse of office and illegal enrichment. No more details were provided. Sopokov was fired from his post in Istanbul and arrested following the assassination of Aierken Saimaiti, a Chinese national of Uyghur ethnicity, who was shot dead at an Istanbul cafe in November. Investigators revealed that Saimaiti used a vehicle with diplomatic license plates that belonged to Sopokov. Sopokov was accused of illegally lending his Range Rover to Saimaiti and other individuals, illegally earning $200,000 and misusing government-provided benefits.

Newsline: Turkey to open embassy in Togo

Turkey will open an embassy in the West African country of Togo, the Turkish foreign minister announced. After meeting with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe in the capital Lome, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will further develop its bilateral relations with Togo. He said during the meeting, the sides talked about how to improve relations and when the new embassy will be opened. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/turkey-to-open-embassy-in-togo-foreign-minister/1916792) Since 2003, Turkey and dozens of African countries have mutually opened embassies. Cavusoglu added that the sides also talked about organizing flights to Togo by Turkish Airlines (THY) as well as cooperation on security and education. Cavusoglu arrived in Togo Monday as the first stop on a three-nation West African tour, to be followed by Niger and Equatorial Guinea.

Newsline: Turkish intelligence and embassy in Greece accused of expanding spying

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, or MIT) has expanded monitoring, illegal information gathering and intrusive surveillance activities in neighboring Greece, while the Turkish Embassy in Athens has engaged in similar operations in a blatant violation of international conventions, newly discovered secret documents have revealed. (https://www.nordicmonitor.com/2020/05/spying-by-turkish-intelligence-and-embassy-in-greece-has-been-expanded-secret-documents-show/) The documents expose expansive, clandestine and hostile activities conducted by Turkish intelligence and diplomats in a NATO ally country. The secret operations, although targeting members of government critic the Gülen movement, reveal how Turkey has been transformed under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan into conducting massive intelligence operations in a neighboring country and challenging Greek national security interests. They also tell the tale of the modus operandi of the new Turkey under one-man rule, often displaying the behavior of a non-rational, non-state actor in harassing, threatening and intimidating other countries in its immediate neighborhood.

Newsline: Asian embassies in Ankara turn digital

Even with Saudi Arabia yet to formally announce whether the Hajj pilgrimage will be held this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, envoys of Muslim countries in Turkey have already made alternative plans for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Lockdown and social distancing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus have forced embassies to shift their plans from get-together feasts to video meetings this Eid, which falls on Sunday. The Malaysian embassy in the capital Ankara normally organizes iftar or fast-breaking gatherings once or twice during Ramadan, inviting community members, students and eminent personalities in Turkey. “But we didn’t do this year due to COVID-19,” said Arhan Shah Anuar, Malaysia’s charge d’affaires in Turkey. Malaysians living in different parts of Turkey would normally gather at the embassy or at a hotel to celebrate Eid together. (https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/asian-embassies-in-ankara-turn-digital-this-eid/1849899) “Because of the extra-ordinary situation triggered by the deadly pandemic, we had to adhere to the safety measures and have therefore reduced physical interactions, among others by shifting the mode of interaction via various alternatives, including online meeting platforms such as Zoom,” said Arhan.

Newsline: Iraq summons Turkish ambassador over deadly airstrikes

In a public show of disapproval, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador over deadly airstrikes carried out by Ankara against suspected militants in northern Iraq. In a statement on Twitter, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned Ambassador Fatih Yildiz on Thursday because of a “Turkish army fighter plane violating Iraqi airspace, and bombing a refugee camp near [Makhmour] that claimed the lives of two women.” (https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/04/iraq-summon-turkey-ambassador-pkk-airstrikes-kurdistan.html) News outlets in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq reported that one air attack killed three civilians near a refugee camp in the mountainous Makhmour region and another destroyed a shelter belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed insurgent group, in the city of Rawanduz. Turkey made no mention of civilian casualties in its version of events, which said the Turkish fighter jets had “neutralized four PKK terrorists as part of a counterterrorism operation.” The National Defense Ministry also said the airstrikes occured in the Qandil region near the Iraq-Iran border, not Makhmour. During their meeting in Baghdad, Ambassador Yildiz told Iraqi officials his country would continue to exercise its “right to legitimate self-defense,” according to state-run Anadolu Agency. Yildiz also said Turkey’s military campaign in Iraq is in compliance with international law.

Newsline: Kremlin urges Turkey to protect Russia’s diplomatic facilities in Turkey

The Kremlin said that Moscow hoped Turkey would do everything to protect Russian nationals and Russia’s diplomatic facilities in Turkey amid mounting tensions over Syria, the RIA news agency reported. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-kremlin-citizens/kremlin-urges-turkey-to-protect-russias-diplomatic-facilities-in-turkey-ria-idUSKCN20M1Z8) The comments followed the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in a strike by Syrian government forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib region on Thursday. Russia is a close ally of the Syrian government. President Vladimir Putin met Russia’s Security Council on Friday to discuss Syria and said that Turkish troops should not be positioned outside their observation posts in Syria’s Idlib, the Kremlin was quoted as saying.

Newsline: Suspect nabbed for killing of Turkish diplomat in Iraq

Turkish security forces on Jan. 21 nabbed a suspect allegedly linked to an armed attack that killed a Turkish diplomat in northern Iraq last July. He was arrested in a joint operation by the provincial police forces and the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT) in the southeastern border province of Şırnak as he attempted to cross to Turkey. (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-nabs-suspect-over-killing-of-turkish-diplomat-in-erbil-151279) On July 17, Osman Köse, who was serving at Turkey’s Consulate General in Erbil, was killed in an armed attack at a restaurant. Apart from the diplomat, two Iraqi nationals sitting at a nearby table were also killed. In August, Turkish forces neutralized two PKK/YPG terrorists, who plotted the armed attack.

Newsline: Turkey summons Egyptian diplomat

Turkey summoned a senior Egyptian diplomat to protest what it said was a raid by Egyptian security forces on the Cairo office of Turkey’s state-run news agency, in which four people were detained. The Anadolu news agency said the four employees, including one Turkish national, had been taken to an undisclosed location after the raid. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the move, which it described as “an act of violence” against Anadolu. It later said that it also summoned the Egyptian charge d’affaires over the matter. “This act of violence against Anadolu not only shows the Egyptian leadership’s hostile stance toward the freedom of the press, but also once again shows its grave conditions on democracy and transparency,” the ministry said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-security/turkey-says-egyptian-security-forces-raid-news-agency-in-cairo-idUSKBN1ZE1U5) It called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release the detained Anadolu personnel.

Newsline: Turkey protests over arson attack on diplomat’s vehicle in Thessaloniki

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the attack saying they “strongly protest the arson attack on the private car of the staff member of our Consulate General in Thessaloniki” and their reaction to this incident “was demonstrated both before the Greek Ambassador in Ankara by our Ministry, as well as the Greek authorities in Athens through our Embassy, and necessary verbal and written demarches were delivered.” (https://greekcitytimes.com/2019/12/26/turkey-protests-over-arson-attack-on-diplomats-vehicle-in-thessaloniki/) The statement continued to note that “Unfortunately, similar incidents against Turkey’s diplomatic staff in Greece and their properties have been on the rise during the recent years. We expect the Greek authorities to prevent such offences, to take all necessary measures to protect our Missions and staff, and to ensure that the perpetrators of these acts are brought to justice and face the penalty they deserve.” Unknown persons threw a molotov cocktail at the vehicle of a Turkish diplomat from the Consulate General of Turkey in the early hours of Monday morning, setting it on fire. According to police reports, the attack occurred around 2:30am on Ioanni Vamvakari Street, in the upper city area of Thessaloniki.

Newsline: Assailants set Turkish consulate employee’s car on fire in Greece

Unknown assailants set the car of a Turkish consulate employee ablaze early on Monday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, a police official said. “There was extended damage,” said the official who declined to be named. There were no injuries. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-turkey-police-car/assailants-set-turkish-consulate-employees-car-on-fire-in-greece-idUSKBN1YR0OZ) Authorities were investigating the incident which took place around 3:30 am.