Turkey Summons Austria Charge D’affaires Over ‘Indecent’ Report

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wave national flags as they listen to him through a giant screen in Istanbul's Taksim Square, Turkey, August 10, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

ISTANBUL, Aug 14 – Turkey summoned Austria’s charge d’affaires in Ankara late on Saturday over what it said was “indecent report” about Turkey on a news ticker at Vienna airport, a foreign ministry official said.

“Turkey allows sex with children under the age of 15,” read a headline on an electronic news ticker at the airport, images circulated on social media showed.

“Our disturbance and reaction over this display which tarnishes Turkey’s image and deliberately misinforms the public have been strongly conveyed to the charge d’affaires,” the ministry official said, adding that the headline was removed following the ministry’s intervention.

Turkey’s constitutional court last month ruled in favour of removing a provision in the penal code which identifies all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 as “sexual abuse” following an application made by a local court.

Tensions between Turkey and Europe have risen following Ankara’s crackdown in the wake of last month’s failed coup in Turkey.

Turkish authorities have detained, sacked or suspended tens of thousands of people over their alleged links with Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric whom the government blames for orchestrating the coup attempt.

Last week Turkey’s foreign minister called Austria the “capital of radical racism” after Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern suggested ending EU accession talks with Turkey which have made minimal progress since they began in 2005.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and many Turks accuse the West of focusing more on the rights of the coup plotters and their supporters than on the coup itself, in which more than 240 people were killed after rogue soldiers bombed parliament and seized bridges with tanks and helicopters.

Halting Turkey’s EU accession process could scupper a landmark migration deal between Brussels and Ankara designed to stop illegal migration to Europe via Turkey in return for financial aid, the promise of visa-free travel to much of the bloc and accelerated talks on membership.

Turkey has lived up to its side of the deal with Brussels but visa-free access has been subject to delays due to a dispute over Turkish anti-terrorism legislation, which some in Europe see as too broad, and to its post-coup crackdown.

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