ISTANBUL (New York Times) — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey stepped back on Monday from a threat to expel 10 Western ambassadors, averting a diplomatic storm that analysts and diplomats were warning would bring economic disaster upon Turkey and a lasting rupture in the NATO alliance.
In what seemed to be a calculated move, the 10 embassies involved issued identical statements confirming their compliance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, statements which were then welcomed by Mr. Erdogan.
In a televised address after a cabinet meeting, he cast the incident as an obligation to protect Turkish sovereignty.
“Our will is never to cause a crisis, but to protect the rights and law, honor, interests and sovereign rights of our country. Thus, today the same ambassadors with a new statement turned back from their accusations to our judiciary and to our country,” he said, adding: “I believe from now on they will be more careful about their statements regarding sovereign rights.”
The diplomacy saved Turkey from a major blow-up with its Western allies, which many feared over the weekend would cause new economic turmoil and political instability in the country of 80 million.