Turkey slams ‘shameful acts’ against flag in Basra protests
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. AFP Photo
Turkey has condemned Iraq after around 200 protesters demanding that Ankara extradite Iraq’s fugitive vice president burned the Turkish flag on May 19 at a demonstration near the Turkish Consulate General in Basra.
“We strongly condemn and regret the shameful behavior against the Turkish flag during the demonstration, which was manipulated by some impertinent circles,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a May 19 statement, noting that it was also taking measures at the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara.
The protesters threatened to boycott Turkish companies operating in Iraq if Ankara does not hand over Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi within 15 days.
“Turkey also recalled that the security of diplomatic representations is the responsibility of the [host] country,” the ministry said.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also spoke to his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, over the incident. “The Iraqi ambassador has said the incidents, which were staged by a group of impertinent people, were unacceptable. The ambassador also said the Iraqi government was deeply sorry about what happened and conveyed formal regret over the incident,” the statement said.
The ministry said Zebari had promised to do whatever was necessary to apprehend those who burned the flag.
Ankara will continue to follow the measures taken by Iraq and other countries to ensure the security of Turkey’s diplomatic missions and that its national symbols are being respected, it said.
Ties between Iraq and Turkey have worsened in recent months, with the Iraqi Foreign Ministry most recently summoning Ankara’s envoy to Baghdad on May 15 to complain about the conduct of two Turkish diplomats in Basra and Mosul.
Al-Hashemi, who is currently residing in Turkey, fled Iraq after being charged with leading death squads. The politician has denounced the accusations, saying they are politically motivated.