13:21 GMT30 May 2020
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    Turkey has withdrawn its ambassador to Austria, accusing the EU nation of being a supporter of 'Kurdish terrorism' and a center of Islamophobia.

    Turkey's stony relationship with Austria further soured on Monday, with the announcement that Turkey was cutting a key diplomatic connection in withdrawing it's ambassador.

    And Turkey has also gone further than just a gesture, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accusing Austria of being the center of racism and Islamophobia that supports 'Kurdish terrorist groups.'

    "Unfortunately, the foundation for our bilateral relations and cooperation to continue as normal has disappeared," Cavusoglu said.

    Turkey is fighting an ongoing war with Kurdish separatists, who Ankara dismisses as terrorists. 

    Cavusoglu added that Turkey would "review its relations" with Austria.

    It comes just weeks after Ankara summoned Austria's ambassador over over a news ticker headline in Vienna airport, which read: "Turkey allows sex with children under the age of 15."

    The headline was from the Austrian tabloid Kronen, which reported on a July ruling by Turkey's constitutional court, which will cancel a law that designated all sexual activities with children under the age of 15 as abuse.

    A local Turkish court had argued that children between the ages of 12 and 15 are capable of consent. The annulment will come into effect in January unless the Turkish parliament enacts a new law.

    The incident was highly embarrassing on a diplomatic level indeed, but, far more serious is the continuing fallout from last months failed Turkish coup attempt.

    In response to nearly being ousted from power, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a wide-ranging crackdown on dissenters. Tens of thousands of troops, police, judges and civil servants have been detained or dismissed in an ongoing purge, with some Erdogan supporters now calling for the death penalty to be reinstated to punish the coup-plotters.

    Many European countries have condemned Erdogan's response as undemocratic and authoritarian.

    Turkey, meanwhile, has angrily disputed what it sees as unreasonable outside influence.Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said:

    "During the coup and afterward, instead of supporting Turkey they have done the exact opposite.

    "Today Austria is the capital of radical racism."

    Earlier this month, far-right Austrian Freedom Party presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, called for a ban on naturalization of Turkish residents in Austria, until dual citizenship issues are resolved. He also called for an end to Turkey's European Union membership negotiations, adding that if Turkey does become an EU member, Austria could break away from the bloc.

    Austria will hold another election in October after a court ordered re-run of this year's June's result, which Hofer narrowly lost. 

    Campaigning on a hard line immigration stance, he is currently leading in the polls.

    Turkey's ire has also recently turned to Austria's neighbour, Germany.

    Last week, leaked German government documents accused Turkey of being a hub for Islamic extremism around the world.

    Turkey reacted with fury with the Turkish foreign ministry denouncing the claims as part of a "twisted mentality" in Germany.

    If Norbert Hofer wins Austria's upcoming election, and if relations between Turkey and several EU member states continue to sour, the proposal for Turkey to become a new member of the EU, may slip into fantasy.

    Tags:
    EU-accession, migrant crisis, spat, terrorism, diplomacy, Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), European Union, Norbert Hofer, Erdogan Toprak, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Germany, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Austria
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