Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that many European countries are ignoring the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Commenting on the case at the Doha Forum on Sunday, Cavusoglu alleged that while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was “determined” for the investigation to reach a conclusion, European leaders were turning a blind eye.
“President Erdogan has been so determined from the beginning to go to the end of this case, and to reach the outcome of the investigation,” he said.
“Many European countries, who are promoting freedom of media, freedom of expression, are closing their eyes.”
He also said that CIA director Gina Haspel had visited Ankara and that it is now up to the US and the EU to take further action.
“They have also listened to the voice records … now it is up to them. I am sure they have more information.
“They have all the intelligence, they have all the details,” Cavusoglu said.
At the conference in Doha, UN chief Antonio Guterres called for a “credible” probe into the murder of Khashoggi, who was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
“It is absolutely essential to have a credible investigation and to have the punishment of those that were guilty,” Guterres said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that the perpetrators in the murder of Khashoggi were “well known”, and that audio recordings of the killing show that people close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) were involved.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Zeina Khodr said that there was a growing frustration in Turkey that European countries and the US haven’t taken any action to pressure Saudi Arabia to cooperate.
“The feeling here is that Saudi Arabia has been dragging its feet, refusing to cooperate, even answering on where Kashhoggi’s body is,” Khodr said, adding that Erdogan has changed his rhetoric over time.
Khodr noted that in the first few weeks Erdogan avoided mentioning Prince Mohammed by name.
However, at the G20 summit held in Argentina from November 30, Erdogan criticised MBS’ explanation on Khashoggi’s killing and in recent days repeatedly said that the suspects in the murder case were his closest aides.
“The feeling here is that Turkey cannot go alone. It needs the help of the international community to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, but at the same time it has to make sure not to hurt the relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Khodr said.
“Turkey repeatedly said that this is about a crime; this is not about the relationship with Saudi Arabia. But if Turkey insists on pushing this further, that relationsip could be damaged. There are calls growing louder for the need for a UN-led investigation that could put pressure on Saudi Arabia.”
Cavusoglu also said at the conference that US President Donald Trump told Erdogan that Washington is working on extraditing Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim figure who is accused by Ankara of orchestrating a failed coup in Turkey in 2016.
“In Argentina, Trump told Erdogan they were working on extraditing Gulen and other people,” Cavusoglu said the conference in Doha, referring to the G20 summit in Argentina.
Turkey has long sought the extradition of Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed US exile for nearly two decades.
A former ally of Erdogan, he is blamed by Turkish authorities for the failed coup when rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and helicopters, attacked parliament and shot unarmed civilians.
Gulen denies any involvement in the failed putsch. However, last month Trump said he was not considering extraditing the preacher as part of efforts to ease Turkish pressure on Saudi Arabia.
Erdogan said last week Turkey would start new initiatives abroad to target the financing of Gulen supporters.
“I have recently seen a credible probe by the FBI on how the Gulen organisation avoids taxes,” Cavusoglu said.
Working with Syria
Cavusoglu also spoke about Syria, saying that Turkey would consider working with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he won a democratic election.
Turkey backed the opposition to Assad in the Syrian war that broke out in 2011.
Assad, whose family has been in power for nearly five decades, managed to stay in power thanks to massive Iranian and Russian military support, but large parts of Syria remain outside his reach, including regions in the north, under Turkish control, and in the east, ruled by a US-backed Kurdish-led coalition.
Cavusoglu said he believed Trump was considering a policy of leaving Syria.