NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg must meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan every day to ask for the release of human rights activist Osman Kawala, 64.
That is the view of Rooney Raffleson, a former mayor of the Sor-Varanche municipality and a personal friend of Kavala, a Labor politician.
– Jens Stoltenberg is the political leader of NATO. His mission, among other things, is to ensure that NATO stands up and defends democracy. He should call Erdogan every day and tell him to release Kavala. If Jens prays in the evening, Rafaelson tells Doplatt that he should include Kavala in his prayer.
Imprisoned since 2017
Osman Kawala, with considerable wealth, is one of Turkey’s greatest philanthropists and leading human rights activists. Since 2017, the 64-year-old has been incarcerated without punishment.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Kawala’s allegations are baseless and that Turkish authorities should release him.
This almost triggered a diplomatic crisis.
Shortly after the report was released, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to expel ambassadors to the signatories.
The crisis was averted after Norway and other countries demanded the release of Kawala and promised a few days later that they would not interfere in Turkey’s “internal affairs.”
– No legitimacy
Turkey is a member of NATO, which is how Rafalsen reacts to how NATO’s Norwegian secretary general treats Turkey with silk gloves.
– If we want to think about human rights in China and Russia, we cannot just sit back and watch one of the world’s foremost human rights defenders imprisoned in NATO. “We had no legitimacy then,” Raffleson said.
He praised Norway for signing the statement calling for Kavala’s release, but criticized how the conflict was resolved.
– This is not exactly interesting, says the Labor politician about the retreat of Norway and other Western officials.
The Foreign Ministry did not accept that this was a setback:
“Our embassy in Ankara has retweeted a US tweet, which makes it clear that the embassy with the Kawala statement did not violate the Vienna Agreement on Diplomatic Relations,” he said. Siri R. Svendsen, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman for Aftenposten.
Raffleson believes the Norwegian authorities need to do more than just NATO.
– The guard made no mistake. We willingly criticize Russia for its lack of press freedom, but your colleagues have also been arrested in Turkey. Raffleson says this is a NATO country, one of the largest NATO countries.
– made a profound impact
Rafaelson was mayor of Sør-Varanger municipality from 2015 to 2021 and has been a key figure in the Parents’ Cooperation between Finland, Norway and Russia for many years.
Usman became acquainted with Qawala in the early 2000s because he was the leader. Parents Secretariat, An organization that facilitates Norwegian-Russian cooperation in the north.
The late Hans Wilhelm Langwa, the then Norwegian Ambassador to Turkey, brought in several Turkish mayors from the border areas between Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to learn about border cooperation between Finland, Russia and Norway.
When Raffleson was invited to Turkey, he met Kavala for the first time.
– We were in touch, became good friends and did a lot on the teams Rafaelson says about friendship.
Regarding Kavala, Raffleson has nothing but compliments:
– He made a deep impression on me. He was an intelligent, elegant and wonderful man. Very intelligent, and interested in strengthening the social glue in Turkey.
Rafaelsen remembers well the last conversation he had with Kavala. In 2016, parts of the Turkish military attempted to carry out a coup.
In response to the coup attempt, Turkish authorities carried out mass arrests. Several thousand were convicted, many of whom were considered political prisoners.
– I said I care about him. I thought Erdogan would use the coup attempt as an excuse to arrest many of his opponents, Raffleson says.
In 2017, the same thing happened to Kavala, who should not be afraid that he will be arrested.
“Relax, don’t worry. It won’t happen. I did nothing wrong,” the guard told me, and he made no mistake, Raffleson said.
The guard did not respond
Dagbladet was in contact with the staff of Jens Stoltenberg, who further cites NATO’s Central Communications Department for comment.
In a statement to Dagbladet, a NATO spokesman wrote:
“NATO is in the Washington Pact (Atlantic Treaty, journ.nm.): An alliance based on the core values of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. These values form the center of the alliance, and all allies are committed to respecting them,” the statement said.
When asked why NATO willingly criticizes Russia for imprisoning Navalny, but not commenting on Kawala’s case, a NATO spokesman responds:
“It would not have been right for us to compare very different cases in different jurisdictions.”
NATO did not want to answer questions about whether Stoltenberg raised Erdogan’s case with Kavala or whether he wanted to do so.
“What we can say is that the Secretary-General emphasizes the importance of these values in his meetings with the Allied leaders, but we will not talk in detail about the secret discussions,” the spokesman wrote.
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