- Turkey has summoned Iran's ambassador to demand a halt to Iranian media reports linking the execution of a Shiite cleric by Saudi Arabia with last week's visit to Riyadh by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“We strongly condemn the linking of our president's recent visit to Saudi Arabia to the executions sentenced in the country in stories published in media outlets linked to Iranian official bodies” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released late on Jan. 7, announcing that ambassador Ali Reza Bikdeli had been summoned to the ministry earlier in the day.
The statement also condemned remarks that directly accused President Erdoğan and said the publications aimed to create a negative image of him in the eyes of Iranian people.
“It was stressed to the ambassador that the attacks on Saudi Arabian embassy and consulate in Tehran and Meshed were completely unacceptable and inexplicable,” the statement read.
On Dec. 31, Erdoğan returned from a two-day official visit from Riyadh. Saudi Arabia's execution on Jan. 2 of Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr erupted into a full-blown diplomatic crisis as Riyadh, then Bahrain and Sudan, severed relations with Tehran, the world's strongest Shiite power.
In remarks delivered on Jan. 6, Erdoğan did not condemn Saudi Arabia for its execution of 47 convicts, saying it was an “internal legal matter” of the kingdom.
“The executions in Saudi Arabia are an internal legal matter. Whether you approve of the decision or not is a separate issue” Erdoğan said in a televised speech, his first reaction to the controversy that has strained relations between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival, Iran.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia, both considered as Sunni powers, share the same vision over the conflict in Syria where they believe only the ousting of President Bashar al-Assad can bring an end to almost five years of civil war.
Meanwhile, tensions have increased between Turkey and Iran, which along with Russia is the key remaining ally of Assad.