Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has backed 10 Western ambassadors’ recent statement urging the release of philanthropist Osman Kavala from jail, saying his country would continue to make such calls, according to Netherlands News Live.
“I once again explained to him [Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] that when Strasbourg makes statements, the Netherlands always reserves the right to draw attention to them,” Rutte told the press in Rome at the end of the G20 summit. “I have told the president that we will continue to do that in the future.”
Ten ambassadors, including the Dutch envoy, on October 18 issued a statement calling for the “just and speedy” resolution of the legal case against Kavala, a 64-year-old civil society leader and businessman who has been behind bars for four years on politically motivated charges linked to 2013 anti-government protests and a failed military coup in 2016.
Rutte said the Netherlands and the other Western countries do not see the call as “interfering with internal affairs” but as “affirming more universal values.”
Prime Minister Rutte met with President Erdoğan in Rome on Saturday.
Erdoğan, who had first threatened the ambassadors on October 21 and then doubled down two days later in televised comments — declaring the 10 ambassadors persona non grata — on October 25 announced, after a cabinet meeting at which his ministers reportedly advised him about the economic dangers of escalating tensions with some of Turkey’s closest allies and trading partners, that the 10 ambassadors had learned their lesson and “will be more careful now.”
Erdoğan’s change in attitude, which came after identical statements were issued by the US and some other countries saying they respected a UN convention that required diplomats not to interfere in the host country’s domestic affairs, was widely considered by international media outlets as a “step back” on the president’s part.
Kavala’s case could prompt the Council of Europe human rights watchdog to launch its first disciplinary hearings against Turkey at a four-day meeting ending on December 2.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in December 2019 that the prolonged pretrial detention of Kavala was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and ordered his immediate release. But Turkey has failed to abide by the ruling despite repeated calls by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.