Ankara voices ‘disappointment’ to Swedish envoy over age of consent tweet
Emine Kart - ANKARAThe Foreign Ministry has summoned Sweden’s chargé d’affaires in Turkey, upon a claim from Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that Turkey had legalized sex with underage children.
“It is a scandal for a foreign minister to post such a tweet based on false news or speculation,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters on Aug. 15, announcing that the head of the Sweden mission in the capital city of Ankara had been summoned to his ministry.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström had tweeted on her official account that the “Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed,” following a controversial ruling by Turkey’s Constitutional Court.
Hedvig Klara Erika Hogg Lohm, the first secretary of the Swedish Embassy who has been serving as the chargé d’affaires, was summoned to the ministry and met with a relevant diplomat at the level of deputy general director, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials told the Hürriyet Daily News.
“The uneasiness and disappointment that we have felt were expressed during the meeting,” Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Swedish officials only said “we can confirm that our Embassy in Ankara has a continued dialogue with the Turkish side on this topic.”
Wallström’s tweet came one day after Turkey also summoned Austria’s chargé d’affaires, in Ankara over what it said was an “indecent report” on the issue on a news ticker at Vienna Airport, which read “Turkey allows sex with children under the age of 15” concerning the recent Constitutional Court ruling.
Turkey’s top court in July annulled a provision punishing as “sexual abuse” all sexual acts involving children under the age of 15, responding to a petition brought by a lower court.
The Constitutional Court has given a six-month period for parliament to pass this law.
The lower court that brought the petition was worried there was no distinction between cases of sexual acts involving a young teenager and those involving a toddler.
The legal age of consent in Turkey remains 18 and was not affected by the ruling. But the new ruling drew a furious response from activists worried that it would open the path for unpunished child sexual abuse.
In response to Wallström, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek tweeted: “You are clearly misinformed. There is no such stupid thing in Turkey. Please get your facts right.”
“It is a scandal for a foreign minister to post such a tweet based on false news or speculation,” Çavuşoğlu, meanwhile, said later in the day.
Çavuşoğlu blasted the “unacceptable” tweet, saying Wallström should have acted more “responsibly.”
“A foreign minister should not tell lies and should not adopt an accusatory approach to Turkey. Yes to criticism, but this is a slander, a lie,” he said.