Turkey summons nine ambassadors over consulate closures

Western states closed consulates over security concerns following Quran burnings in Scandinavia

Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest in front of the Swedish consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. EPA
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Turkey on Thursday summoned the ambassadors from nine countries that recently closed their embassies in Ankara following security threats.

The US, UK, Germany and France are among several countries to have temporarily closed their outposts in Turkey in the face of security threats linked to Quran-burning demonstrations in Europe.

The summons were reported by Turkish state-owned broadcaster TRT, though there was no immediate comment from the country's foreign ministry.

The move follows a series of Quran-burning demonstrations in Sweden and Denmark that have led to increased security threats against westerners in Turkey, which has been struck by several terror attacks in recent years.

“There is a potential that citizens from western countries may be targets or caught up in attacks, particularly in the major cities,” the UK Foreign Office said on its travel advice page.

The US has warned of threats to churches, synagogues, diplomatic missions and areas often frequented by tourists.

Far-right Swedish-Danish politician Rasmus Paladan burnt copies of the Quran outside a mosque and the Turkish embassy in Copenhagen on Friday, while an effigy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hung by protesters outside Stockholm City Court last month.

Mr Paladan had also burnt a Quran in Stockholm the week before, pledging to continue until Sweden is admitted into Nato.

Iranians burn a Swedish flag during a protest in Tehran following the burning of a Quran in Stockholm. AFP

Mr Erdogan said the demonstrations have forced him to block Sweden's bid to join the military alliance, with Ankara previously blasting Stockholm over its hosting of Kurdish militants that Turkey has labelled as terrorists.

“Sweden, don’t even bother,” Mr Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling AKP party lawmakers on Wednesday.

“As long as you allow my holy book, the Quran, to be burnt and torn, and you do so together with your security forces, we will not say ‘yes’ to your entry into Nato.”

On Thursday, Norwegian police said they had banned a protest scheduled to take place outside the Turkish embassy in Oslo on Friday, citing security threats.

“The police emphasise that burning the Quran is a legal political statement in Norway, but this event can't go ahead due to security concerns,” said Oslo Police Inspector Martin Strand.

Updated: February 02, 2023, 6:38 PM