The Turkish interior minister has lashed out at the US ambassador in Ankara after Washington and eight European countries issued travel warnings and moved to temporarily close their diplomatic missions in Turkey over purported security concerns.
Suleyman Soylu, an outspoken critic of the United States who accuses Washington of the 2016 military coup attempt and plots to portray Turkey as an unstable state, railed against US ambassador Jeffry Flake on Friday, telling him to take his “dirty hands off Turkey.”
“Every US ambassador who arrives in Turkey is hurrying to find out how to make a coup possible in Turkey,” Soylu said in an address at a ministerial event in the Turkish city of Antalya.
“I address the US ambassador from here. I know the journalists you made write articles,” he added. “Take your dirty hands off Turkey. I’m being very clear. I very well know how you would like to create strife in Turkey. Take your grinning face off from Turkey.”
Soylu also accused US embassies in Europe of convening together in an attempt to control the continent. He stressed that US efforts in Turkey were “futile” thanks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The US, along with eight European countries, including Germany, France and the Netherlands, have since last week either temporarily shut their embassies and consulates in Turkey or issued travel warnings after widespread protests against the desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Europe.
On Thursday, Soylu condemned the closures as an attempt to meddle in campaigning for Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for 14 May. The Turkish interior minister and other officials also suggested that the Western states had issued the security warnings in order to pressure Turkey to tone down its criticism of the sacrilegious move and resolve the NATO dispute.
Far-right activists burned copies of the holy Muslim book in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands last week. The conduct led to a halt in negotiations for Turkey to lift objections to a bid by Sweden and Finland to join NATO.
France, Germany, Italy and the United States have warned their citizens of an increased risk of attacks in Turkey. Germany, France and the Netherlands were among countries that temporarily closed diplomatic missions for security reasons.
Turkey, in response, has warned its citizens against “possible Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist attacks” in the United States and Europe, summoning on ambassadors of nine countries to demand explanations for their anti-Ankara moves.