Top Turkish, Icelandic diplomats talk airport incident
In a phone call, top diplomats from Turkey and Iceland on June 11 discussed the mistreatment of Turkish football players who arrived in the country by plane last weekend, according to diplomatic sources.
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey's foreign minister, told Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, his Icelandic counterpart, that the mistreatment of the Turkish national team at the airport was “unacceptable,” said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Turkey on June 10 rejected Iceland's defense of its treatment of the Turkish national football team upon their arrival in the country for an upcoming game.
Members of the team said when they arrived on June 9 at Keflavik International Airport for a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying match, which is due for today, airport police kept them waiting for three hours at passport control and subjected their personal belongings to an invasive search.
An official request for a fast track security check at the airport for the footballers was made on May 16 through diplomatic channels while the request was renewed on June 6 and again brought to the attention of Icelandic authorities, Turkish diplomatic sources told Anadolu Agency.
Furthermore, a Belgian national held a brush to team captain Emre Belözoğlu’s face, pretending it is a microphone, as the captain was talking to reporters.
Ankara's reaction follows a statement June 10 by Iceland's Foreign Ministry which claimed that Turkish authorities notified Iceland "only hours prior” to the team's arrival in the country.
"Unfortunately, an official request for a fast track security check from the Turkish Embassy in Oslo was not received in time to be processed, as it was sent on only hours prior to the team's arrival in Keflavik. In any case, such privilege is usually only accorded to senior government officials," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the Turkish national football team and staff had passed through security and border patrol one hour and 21 minutes from the time their plane landed at the airport.
The incident was promptly condemned by Turkey's presidential office and aides as well as the foreign minister and party leaders.
Turkey on June 10 issued a diplomatic note against Iceland, condemning the “disrespectful” treatment of the Turkish national football team.
The note sent through Turkey's Embassy in Oslo condemned the “disrespectful” and “violent” behaviors against Turkish footballers during the passport check and demanded extra security measures be taken for the players.
Turkey and Iceland do not have resident diplomatic missions in each other’s capitals.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a phone call with Nihat Özdemir, the head of Turkish Football Federation (TFF), regarding the incident and said that necessary precautions are being taken by the state.
Erdoğan also reassured Özdemir that the Turkish people stand by the national team and the team manager, Şenol Güneş.
“The treatment our national football team was subjected to at Iceland’s airport is unacceptable both in terms of diplomatic practices and [in a] humanitarian sense. Our nation should have no doubt that what is necessary will be done,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu wrote in a tweet.
Turkey on June 8 defeated France for the first time in its history with a 2-0 score to lead Group H in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.