Turkish Interior Minister slams closure of consulates in Istanbul over security reasons

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has claimed that Western consulates in Istanbul were closed to “start a new psychological war in Turkey.” Several Western countries announced that they temporarily closed their Consulate Generals in Istanbul due to security reasons.

Duvar English

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Feb. 2 slammed Western countries' decision to temporarily close their Consulate Generals in Istanbul due to security reasons.

“They are on the verge of starting a new psychological war in Turkey on a day when we announced that 51.5 million tourists had arrived and that we had a tourism income of 46 billion dollars,” Soylu claimed during a meeting on Gendarmerie force in capital Ankara.

Soylu stated that some ambassadors have issued a declaration in order to "adjust the law in Turkey" and "destabilize Turkey."

Soylu’s remarks came after several Western countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, temporarily closed their Consulate Generals in Istanbul on Feb. 1 and 2, citing security reasons.

The consulates stated that the risk of "terrorist attacks" in Istanbul increased, especially in Beyoğlu, Taksim locations and where tourists frequently visit, following Quran-burning incidents in Europe. They said those incidents may incite anti-Western protests.

Previously, several embassies in Ankara including those of the United States, Germany, France and Italy on Jan. 27 released security alerts for their citizens in Turkey that flagged "possible retaliatory attacks by terrorists against places of worship."

Soylu said they detained 15 people and arrested five of them after the warnings. 

“If you knew so much, why didn't you inform Turkey about the PKK and YPG's attack on Istiklal Avenue?” Soylu added.

A blast hit Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue on Nov. 13, which killed six people and injured more than 80.

Turkey blamed the Kurdistan Worker' Party (PKK) for the blast but no group has claimed responsibility. The PKK and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have denied involvement.

On the other hand, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik deemed the closure of consulates "irresponsibile."

"This irresponsibility is unacceptable. Turkey is a safe country. Our security forces and intelligence units are at work. There are countries where anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic political movements challenge democracies and where our holy book, the Qur'an, is attacked. Missions that should aim to improve relations between our countries need to make more careful and responsible statements. We reject the statements aimed at wearing down Turkey," he said on Twitter.