Turkey, US to share information on judicial processes of diplomatic staff: Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu
Visa normalization with Washington is “very positive,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, while accusing the U.S. of “misinforming the public” by saying it received assurances from the Turkish government ahead of the resumption of visa services.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, Çavuşoğlu recalled a joint commission established between Turkey and the U.S. in order to resolve the visa crisis with the participation of officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Justice Ministry. The commission will be informed whenever a diplomatic mission staff is accused of a crime or is under investigation, Çavuşoğlu said.
The U.S. asked Turkey for “normalization” and Ankara responded in the same manner, he claimed, adding that the work of the commission was accelerated after his meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of a recent NATO meeting in Brussels.
“Discussions were held and this decision came out. But when the U.S. makes statements after such issues it gives false information to the public of both countries,” Çavuşoğlu stated.
"Who can give such a guarantee in a state of law? We have stated this issue openly in discussions. We asked them if they would be able to give us such a guarantee and they said ‘No.’ Indeed, judicial processes do not deal with consultations,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu spoke with Tillerson by phone about Washington’s decision to lift restrictions on visa services for Turkish nationals, a Turkish diplomatic official said late on Dec. 28.
No detail was disclosed on the content of the phone call between the ministers, the source said.
Earlier on Dec. 28, the State Department released a statement saying that visa services at its missions in Turkey had been fully restored.
The U.S. said the decision came after Turkey reassured officials that local employees would not be subjected to additional scrutiny.
However, the Turkish Embassy in Washington rejected this, saying Ankara did not provide any assurance related to ongoing judicial process in Turkey.
“We find it wrong to misinform the Turkish and the American public by claiming that the U.S. received assurances from Turkey,” the mission said.
“We welcome the decision of the United States to resume as of today regular visa procedures, by lifting the restrictions applied to our citizens,” the Turkish Embassy in the U.S. said in a statement.
In a reciprocal move, Turkey also lifted restrictions on visa services for American citizens, according to the embassy.
The visa row was sparked on Oct. 8, when the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services for Turkish nationals.
It came after the arrest of Metin Topuz, a U.S. consulate employee who was arrested for alleged ties to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
Topuz has been linked to more than 120 FETÖ suspects, including police chiefs, over a protracted period, according to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.