Turkey withdraws ambassador to Austria amid diplomatic spat

Ties between Turkey and Austria have been tense for several weeks

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Turkey is withdrawing its ambassador to Austria, the Turkish foreign minister said Monday, amid a growing diplomatic spat.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ambassador Hasan Gogus was called back to Ankara for “consultations and to review ties,” citing Austrian authorities’ decision to allow alleged supporters of Turkey’s Kurdish rebels to hold a demonstration in Vienna over the weekend as well as rising anti-Turkish rhetoric in Austria.

Ties between Turkey and Austria have been tense for several weeks, with a top Austrian official saying Turkey was heading toward a dictatorship and other leaders calling for an end to Turkey’s European Union membership talks.

Turkey, in turn, has described Austria as the “capital of radical racism.”

“We saw that ... the PKK and its supporters were given permission to stage a demonstration in Vienna,”

Cavusoglu said. “This does not comply with honesty or sincerity. We couldn’t stay inactive against this attitude which supports terrorism.” He was referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Turkey and its allies consider a terror organization.

Fighting between the PKK and Turkey’s security forces resumed last year after a fragile peace process collapsed. The group has stepped up attacks targeting police and military in Turkey and at least a dozen people were killed in a string of bombings last week.

Cavusoglu said Austria’s top diplomat in Ankara was also called to the ministry over the demonstration in Vienna.

“Unfortunately, the ground for our bilateral relations and cooperation to continue as normal has disappeared,” Cavusoglu said.