Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Saturday that he had informed his foreign ministry to expel the ambassadors of the United States and nine other Western countries.
The decision was made for demanding the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala. Seven of the ambassadors represent Turkey‘s NATO allies and the expulsions, if carried out, would open the deepest rift with the West in Erdogan’s 19 years in power.
On his part, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price affirmed that it was aware of the reports and was seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I gave the necessary order to our foreign minister and said what must be done: These 10 ambassadors must be declared persona non grata (undesirable) at once. You will sort it out immediately,” Erdogan said in a speech in the northwestern city of Eskisehir.
The president added that they would know and understand Turkey. “The day they do not know and understand Turkey, they will leave.”
In a joint statement on Oct. 18, the ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and the United States called for a just and speedy resolution to Kavala’s case, and for his “urgent release”.
Later on, they were summoned by the foreign ministry, which called the statement irresponsible.