Click to read the article in Turkish
An article calling for the release of Osman Kavala was published in Financial Times today (November 7). Prominent figures including Carl Bildt, Timothy Garton Ash, Ivan Krastev, Kalypso Nicolaidis, Claus Offe, Chris Patten, Javier Solana and Nathalie Tocci signed the declaration.
The article reads:
We write to draw attention to the wholly unjustified detention of Osman Kavala, one of Turkey's most prominent citizens and a committed European. Mr. Kavala has been charged with almost single-handedly destroying Turkey`s constitutional order.
Mr. Kavala is well known across European academia and civil society. For decades, he has used arts, culture and dialogue to facilitate exchanges throughout Turkey, its neighborhood, and across Europe. He is modest, gracious, and decent to a fault. He is the favoured partner of many major European institutions. When the Council of Europe needed a partner in Turkey, they sought Mr Kavala. Turkey, is of course a founding member of the Council of Europe. He was also one of the first to warn against covert Gulenists networks, who were responsible for last year's coup attempt.
After 14 days in police custody, a court in Istanbul decided, on November 1, to charge Mr. Kavala with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and for having ties to terrorist organizations. For a man who has spent his life advancing democracy and dialogue, and who gave an early warning against the dangers of Gulenist influence, these charges are beyond ridiculous.
Turkey has endured a serious trauma in the July 2016 attempted coup, and Europe should have done more to show solidarity with the Turkish people. European states and institutions should assist Turkey in its efforts to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the failed coup attempt, but only if the Turkish judiciary drops such farcical and grotesque prosecutions as that of Osman Kavala. As friends of the Turkish people, we ask the Turkish authorities to release Mr Kavala”.
About the signatories
Carl Bildt: Former Prime Minister of Sweden. He not only criticized the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey but also the coup staged by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt and also slammed Europe for not sufficiently raising its voice against both coups.
Javier Solana: Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain. He had brought the EU summit decision reading “Turkey is a candidate country” as the EU Foreign Affairs Specialist by a private jet in person in December 1999. He is now the President of ESADE University.
Chris Patten: President of Oxford University.
Timothy Garton Ash and Kalypso Nicolaidis: The two academics who organized the statement entitled “We take side with Turkish people and Turkish democracy” signed by 50 people following the April 27 military memorandum.
Claus Offe: One of the most important academics from Germany.
Ivan Krastev and Nathalie Tocci: They signed some of the positive reports written for Turkey over the last 15 years in Europe.
Anadolu Kültür Executive Board Chair, human rights advocate and businessperson Osman Kavala was taken into custody in the evening hours on October 18 at İstanbul Atatürk Airport upon his return from a meeting of a project planned to be realized in cooperation with Goethe Institute in Antep.
He was targeted by some pro-government newspapers following his detention.
Speaking at the weekly group meeting of his party, President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Kavala as the "Soros of Turkey", mentioning his name and said:
"Some try to deflect the truth by means of praises attributed to him such as 'He was a good citizen, a media member, an NGO representative'. The identity of this figure called 'Soros of Turkey' has been uncovered. That was his name that came up in Consulate General [investigation]. All connections have surfaced. And there is the same person behind the incidents in Taksim. You see those people again behind funds transfer to certain places. Who are you trying to fool?"
His detention also sparked criticism on international level.
US thinker and professor in linguistics, Noam Chomsky, United States Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert and European Parliament Rapporteur for Turkey Kati Piri denounced Kavala's detention and demanded that he be released immediately.
On October 31, a group of 35 academics, writers and researchers coming together under the guidance of the European Network on Political Group Analysis Jean-François Bayart, addressed an open letter to President Erdoğan for Kavala's release.
About Osman Kavala
Kavala was born in Paris in 1957. He graduated from Department of Economy at Manchester University.
He has been working as executive at Kavala Group since 1982.
He participated in the foundation of Turkey's one of the most prominent publishing houses, İletişim Publications, with Murat Belge.
He served as member of administrative boards of business institutions and NGOs such as Turkey-Poland Business Council, Turkey-Greece Business Council, and Center For Democracy in Southeast Europe.
Kavala is a member of Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) Administrative Board, Open Society Institute Consulting Board, and supporter of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly, History Foundation and Diyarbakır Culture House. (HK/TK)
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