After controversial rmarks by Turkish ambassador, Ankara, Vienna play down tension
Both Ankara and Vienna yesterday played down any tension in bilateral ties after personal remarks by Turkey's ambassador critical of Austria's treatment of immigrants. Diplomatic sources say withdrawing the ambassador is out of the question, and Austria has not asked Ankara to do so. Ambassador Kadri Ecved Tezcan was summoned to the Austrian Foreign Ministry early Wednesday to explain his remarks, while Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke twice on the phone with his Austrian counterpart. In Strasbourg, Davutoglu said the ambassador had expressed his personal opinion. "From the beginning of the interview, our ambassador declared that the views expressed were his personal views and he was trying to reflect his own experiences with the Turkish community," he said. "The Turkish-Austrian relationship is deep-rooted and based on mutual respect with an established tradition." Before beginning the interview with Austrian daily Die Presse, Tezcan asked the journalist if he would like him to speak as a diplomat – calling this "boring" – or as someone who has been living in Vienna for a year and has contacts with the 250,000 Turks living in Austria. In the interview, Tezcan criticized Austrian Interior Minister Maria Fekter for her tough stance on immigrant issues. "What she stands for doesn't conform to a liberal, open mindset," he said, adding that he sees German Chancellor Angela Merkel the same way. "Turks are happy, they don't want anything from you," he added. "They just don't want to be treated like a virus."