Turkey withdraws ambassador to Austria in diplomatic row

Snub comes after Austria allows a rally in support of PKK terrorist organisation, says Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

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Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to Austria on Monday following a rally held in central Vienna, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said on August 22. Relations between the countries have deteriorated since the failed coup attempt in Turkey last month.

"We cannot remain indifferent to [Austria’s] stance supporting terrorism,” he continued. Turkey also summoned the Austrian charge d'affaires to the foreign ministry in Ankara.

Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Galbur (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R)attend a press conference after their meeting at Foreign Ministry residence in Ankara, Turkey on August 22, 2016.

The move came after Austrian authorities barred Turkish citizens from holding anti-coup demonstrations in support of their nation's democracy.
The minister also accused Austria of double standards, noting that authorities had allowed a PKK-backed demonstration to take place. “We cannot be two-faced like them—we are against all kinds of terrorism,” Çavuşoğlu added. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, EU and the US.

Supporters of PKK stage a rally in Vienna, Austria on August 20, 2016

Çavuşoğlu said that Austria was “trying to give lessons on freedom of assembly” but failed to allow “even a peaceful march [in support of Turkish democracy]” to go ahead.

Tensions between Turkey and Austria, where around 300,000 people of Turkish origin reside, increased last month when the mayor of Wiener Neustadt called for the removal of Turkish flags hung by residents celebrating the defeat of the July 15 coup attempt.

On Aug. 3, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern had also said accession talks with Turkey were a "diplomatic fiction" and that he wanted EU leaders to reconsider their approach with regards to Ankara. Later, Kern criticised anti-coup protests by Turks in Austria and called them “radical.” Çavuşoğlu slammed the Austrian chancellor’s remarks in response, saying Austria was the “capital of radical racism.”

The relations between the countries in July this year were also strained when a news ticker at Vienna airport urged people not to visit Turkey, in addition to one that that falsely claimed Turkey had legalised sex with children. The airport later removed the provocative statements that received widespread condemnation from the Turkish government and the Turkish public alike on social media.

TRTWorld and agencies