Erdogan Boycotts US Ambassador as Visa Row Intensifies

US Ambassador to Turkey John R. Bass during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo
US Ambassador to Turkey John R. Bass during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo
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Erdogan Boycotts US Ambassador as Visa Row Intensifies

US Ambassador to Turkey John R. Bass during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo
US Ambassador to Turkey John R. Bass during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he would boycott US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass, holding him responsible for a US-Turkish row over the issuance of visas.
 
During his visit to Belgrade, Erdogan said Turkey no longer regarded ambassador John Bass as the US representative to the country, adding that the Turkish government would not receive him on his farewell tour before leaving Ankara in the coming days, following his appointment as ambassador to Kabul.
 
The dispute erupted last week when Turkey arrested a Turkish employee of the American consulate on suspicion of links to the group blamed for last year's failed coup.
 
In response, the United States stopped issuing non-immigrant visas from its missions in Turkey, prompting Turkish missions in the United States to hit back by adopting the same measures against the US.
 
Speaking at a news conference with President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Erdogan said: “We have not agreed and are not agreeing to this ambassador making farewell visits with ministers, the parliament speaker and myself.”
 
“We do not see him as the representative of the United States in Turkey,” he continued.
 
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called on Washington to adopt a more rational attitude towards the visa crisis, describing the suspension of granting visas to the Turks for “security reasons” as a “blatant contradiction.”
 
Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul rejected earlier this week a request by the US Ambassador for a meeting, Turkish media outlets reported.
 
Commenting on his country’s decision to stop issuing non-immigrant visas for Turks, Bass said in a statement published at the embassy’s website: “The suspension allows us to minimize the number of visitors to our embassy and consulates while we assess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of our diplomatic facilities and personnel.”
 
He explained: “For the second time this year, a Turkish staff member of our diplomatic mission was arrested by Turkish authorities.  Despite our best efforts to learn the reasons for this arrest, we have been unable to determine why it occurred or what, if any, evidence exists against the employee.”
 
In March, a Turkish employee at the US consulate in the southern city of Adana was arrested on charges of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
 
Turkish economic officials warned that the suspension of visas between the United States and Turkey would damage bilateral trade, which amounts to $17.5 billion per year.
 
The president of the Turkish-American Business Council, Kamil Ekim Alptekin, said that the two states needed each other politically and economically, and “we want to solve the problems without their reflection on economic relations, but if it affects national security, no country can make concessions.”
 
In parallel, the Turkish authorities issued a decision to detain 70 officers, suspected of having links to Fethullah Gulen’s movement, after their arrest in Istanbul, Ankara, Kayseri, Izmir, Eskisehir and Yalova.
 
Those included 62 air force officers, four from the naval forces and four gendarmes.



Gunmen Kill 15 Police Officers and Several Civilians in Russia's Dagestan

A view shows plumes of smoke rising from building, in Derbent, Russia, June 23, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. VIDEO OBTAINED BY REUTERS/via REUTERS
A view shows plumes of smoke rising from building, in Derbent, Russia, June 23, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. VIDEO OBTAINED BY REUTERS/via REUTERS
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Gunmen Kill 15 Police Officers and Several Civilians in Russia's Dagestan

A view shows plumes of smoke rising from building, in Derbent, Russia, June 23, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. VIDEO OBTAINED BY REUTERS/via REUTERS
A view shows plumes of smoke rising from building, in Derbent, Russia, June 23, 2024, in this still image obtained from a video. VIDEO OBTAINED BY REUTERS/via REUTERS

More than 15 police officers and several civilians, including an Orthodox priest, were killed by armed militants in Russia’s southern republic of Dagestan on Sunday, its governor Sergei Melikov said in a video statement early Monday.
The gunmen opened fire on two Orthodox churches, a synagogue and a police post in two cities, according to the authorities.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee described the attacks as terrorist acts.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were declared days of mourning in the region.
Dagestan's Interior Ministry said a group of armed men shot at a synagogue and a church in the city of Derbent, located on the Caspian Sea. Both the church and the synagogue caught fire, according to state media. Almost simultaneously, reports appeared about an attack on a church and a traffic police post in the Dagestan capital, Makhachkala.
Authorities announced a counter-terrorist operation in the region. The Anti-Terrorist Committee said five gunmen were “eliminated.” The governor said six “bandits” had been “liquidated.” The conflicting numbers couldn't be immediately reconciled and it wasn't clear how many militants were involved in the attacks.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. The authorities launched a criminal investigation on the charge of a terrorist act.
Russian state news agency Tass cited law enforcement sources as saying that a Dagestani official was detained over his sons' involvement in the attacks.
Melikov said in the video statement that the situation in the region was under control of the law enforcement and local authorities, and vowed that the investigation of the attacks will continue until “all the sleeping cells” of the militants are uncovered.
He claimed, without providing evidence, that the attacks might have been prepared from abroad, and referenced what the Kremlin calls “the special military operation” in Ukraine in an apparent attempt to link the attacks to it.