The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Bin Mohammad Gargash, tweeted on Thursday that Qatar’s seeking protection from two non-Arab states – Turkey and Iran – is tragic and comical.
Several Turkish soldiers at NATO’s central command in Ramstein has sought asylum in Germany in the wake of Turkey’s widespread crackdown against military personnel, journalists and political activists.
According to a German official, quoted by the dpa news agency, family members of the soldiers stationed at the airbase in southwestern Germany have also applied for asylum.
Paul Junker, a regional official in nearby Kaiserslautern, said the asylum requests had come from “more than one family,” but declined to say how many individuals were involved.
German Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said last month that 35 Turkish diplomatic passport holders had formally applied for asylum in Germany. The actual figure of the asylum seekers, he said, could be higher.
Relations between Turkey and Germany have strained following the July 15 botched coup, which Ankara claims to have been organized by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier often clashed with Turkish officials during a visit to Ankara this week, reflecting tough times in their relations.
After 11 years of negotiations, Turkey’s prospects of joining the EU look more remote than ever, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu telling Steinmeier on Tuesday that Turkey was “fed up” with the European Union.
“We are truly fed up of these statements degrading Turkey. The criteria are clear but there are double standards and a two-faced approach. This is what we don’t like,” Cavusoglu told a joint news conference.
Over 240 people were killed and more than 2,100 others injured in the coup attempt, which Gulen has strongly condemned and denied any involvement in.
Tens of thousands of people, including military personnel, judges and teachers, have been suspended, dismissed or detained as part of the post-coup crackdown.
International rights groups argue that Ankara’s crackdown has gone far beyond the so-called Gulenists and targeted Kurds as well as government critics.
Turkey detains, suspends mayors over PKK links
On Thursday, Turkish officials arrested and suspected three mayors in the Kurdish-majority southeastern part of the country over alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.
Unnamed security sources said police detained the mayor of Van city, Bekir Kaya, and four other municipal officials early Thursday.
The sources said the mayors of Mardin and Siirt citties, identified as Ahmet Turk and Tuncer Bakirhan respectively, had also been discharged and replaced with administrators appointed by the Interior Ministry.
Earlier this month, 13 legislators from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested after being accused of links to Kurdish militants.
Party leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ remain in custody along with eight others, waiting to stand trial on terrorism-related charges.
A shaky ceasefire between the PKK, which has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Ever since, attacks on Turkish security forces have soared.
Over the past few months, Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region and northern Syria.
According to Chairman of the Free Democrats party Khachatur Kokobelyan, declaring Nagorno-Karabakh’s airspace a no-fly zone was one more provocative statement by Azerbaijan.
In an interview with Tert.am, he said that air forces had never had any problems with the Nagorno-Karabakh territory before November 12.
“And this is one more attempt on their part to show the international community that they are seeking tensions,” Mr Kokobelyan said.
Despite the Azerbaijan foreign office’s statement declaring Nagorno-Karabakh’s airspace a no-fly zone Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s helicopter landed at the Stepanakert airport in the afternoon on Thursday.
According to Mr Kokobelyan, the international community has so far adequately reacted to Azerbaijan’s attack on the Nagorno-Karabakh helicopter. He is sure that Azerbaijan’s attempts to destabilize the region will fail.
“It does not meet either our interests or the interests of the entire Caucasus or of the international community,” the MP said.
Azerbaijan’s attempts are evidence of its being incapable of meeting the criteria proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.
“They are thus expressing their dissatisfaction,” he added.
Head of the Heritage parliamentary group Ruben Hakobyan is not surprised at the attack on the helicopter. And Azerbaijan’s foreign office is expected to make statements like that.
“This can be considered in the context of the events in late July-early August. To our army’s credit, we were able to adequately retaliate, and the attacker sustained heavy losses,” he said.
Azerbaijan is getting ready for war, resorting to provocations. Azerbaijan’s act must not go unpunished, Mr Hakobyan said.
Secretary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) Aghbvan Vardanyan hopes that the Armenian side will retaliate adequately.
“We know our neighbors very well. They have no changed their policy they are constantly creating tensions, trying to deal with us from a position of strength and show it is their territory. This time we must retaliate in a different way. Provocations will continue until enemy comes to realize that a dozen will be punished for one,” Mr Vardanyan said.
Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary group member Levon Martirosyan told Tert.am that Azerbaijan’s foreign office did not make a serious statement.
“If they can declare a territory that is not theirs a no-fly zone, we might just as well declare Azerbaijan’s territory a no-fly zone. So it is a counterproductive approach, a way to nowhere.”