A spokesman for the Turkish presidential office on Tuesday accused German news outlet Deutsche Welle of spreading “fake news” with a report suggesting that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had threatened to resign if President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not back down from a threat to expel 10 foreign ambassadors – including seven from NATO allies.
“You are not only making fake news, but you are poisoning Turkey-Germany relations as well,” the pro-government Daily Sabah reported Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun as saying in a social media post.
Altun also reportedly demanded a retraction and an apology from the German daily, accusing it of “persisting with the lie” after Cavusoglu denied the claims.
DW reported on Monday that it had obtained information that Cavusoglu told Erdogan he would have to “leave the ministry” if the Turkish president insisted with an order to have the ambassadors of Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United States declared persona non grata.
Erdogan threatened to expel the envoys on Saturday after they sent a letter calling for the release of jailed Turkish businessman and pro-democracy activist Osman Kavala, who is accused of involvement in the botched 2016 coup.
The Turkish president backed down after the embassies in question issued a statement saying they would respect the UN diplomatic convention and not interfere in the country’s domestic affairs.
“We believe that these ambassadors, who have fulfilled their commitment to Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, will now be more careful in their statements,” Erdogan said on Monday in televised remarks following a three-hour cabinet meeting in Ankara.