The consulates of Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom in Istanbul are temporarily closed today due to concerns about the risk of terrorist attacks.
The picture shows the German Consulate in Istanbul.
(Associated Press file photo)
[Central News Agency] The consulates of Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom in Istanbul were temporarily closed today due to concerns about the risk of terrorist attacks.
Turkey's foreign ministry summoned ambassadors from nine countries to express concern, while the interior ministry slammed the countries for waging psychological warfare in an attempt to sabotage the tourism recovery and influence the May general election.
The recent burning of the holy book of Islam, the Koran, in several European countries has ignited the anger of Turkey and the Islamic world.
The U.S. consulate in Istanbul warned that this could lead to retaliatory attacks, and other countries followed suit by issuing travel warnings, urging citizens to be vigilant, avoid tourist hotspots, and refrain from participating in large-scale events.
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At least seven European countries have temporarily closed their consulates in Istanbul.
The U.S. consulate remains open because it is far from the city center and less vulnerable to attack.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told local NTV television on Monday that the closure of consulates and travel warnings were part of a "Western conspiracy" to stop Turkey's tourism recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: "On the day we announced that the target was (attracting) 60 million tourists, when 50.5 million tourists came and we got 46 billion US dollars (about NT$1.37 trillion) in tourism revenue, they were about to start (targeting) Turkey launches a new wave of psychological warfare."
The minister, known for his anti-Western stance, went on to cite Turkey's counter-terrorism achievements, pointing out that this year Turkey has carried out 60 operations against the Islamic State group, detaining 95 people.
Last year, more than 1,000 operations were launched, and nearly 2,000 people suspected of being linked to the Islamic State were detained.
The diplomatic turmoil stems from Turkey's opposition to Sweden and Finland's NATO membership more than half a year after an anti-Islam far-right was allowed to burn Korans in protest outside Turkey's embassies in Stockholm and Copenhagen, angering Turkey .
The embassies of the United States, Germany, France, Italy and other countries in Turkey issued security warnings on January 27 in response to possible reprisal attacks on places of worship.
Not to be outdone, Turkey also said the next day that there may be "Islamophobia, xenophobia and racist attacks" in the United States and Europe, warning citizens.
The Turkish foreign ministry also summoned the Norwegian ambassador to demand a halt to a protest scheduled for tomorrow, when the Koran would be "attacked", Reuters and Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Norwegian police banned the protest due to "security concerns" after the Turkish foreign ministry told the Norwegian ambassador it would constitute a "hate crime".
Under Norwegian law, police can only ban demonstrations if there is a danger to the public.
Istanbul's bustling Istiklal Avenue, which is close to many foreign consulates, was the site of an explosion in November that killed six and injured 81.
The Turkish government blamed Kurdish militants.