Turkish FM: EU countries turning blind eye to Khashoggi murder

Mevlut Cavusoglu says it is clear that Saudi hit team planned killing in advance, as UN chief calls for accountability.

    Many European countries are ignoring the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and "closing their eyes" to freedom of the press, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday.

    Commenting on Khashoggi's killing at the Doha Forum, Cavusoglu said while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was adamant that the investigation reach a conclusion, European leaders were turning a blind eye.

    "President Erdogan has been so determined from the beginning to go to the end of this case, and to reach the outcome of the investigation," he said. "Many European countries who are promoting freedom of media, freedom of expression, are closing their eyes."

    He also said CIA Director Gina Haspel had visited Ankara and it was now up to the United Staes and the European Union to take further action.

    "They have also listened to the voice records ... now it is up to them. I am sure they have more information. They have all the intelligence, they have all the details," Cavusoglu said.

    UN investigation

    At the conference in Doha, UN chief Antonio Guterres called for a "credible" probe into the murder of Khashoggi, who was killed in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
         
    "It is absolutely essential to have a credible investigation and to have the punishment of those that were guilty," Guterres said.

    Cavusoglu said Turkey has shared all information it obtained on the murder of Khashoggi but Saudi Arabia failed to reciprocate.

    "We shared all information with them … but so far we haven't been provided any information from the ongoing investigation in Saudi Arabia," Cavusoglu said at the forum.

    Mentioning voice recordings, he said: "You can see very clearly that they planned in advance to kill him."

    Erdogan said on Friday the perpetrators of Khashoggi's murder were "well known", and that audio recordings of the killing show that people close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) were involved.

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    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Istanbul, said there is a growing frustration in Turkey that European countries and the US haven't taken any action to pressure Saudi Arabia to cooperate.

    "The feeling here is that Saudi Arabia has been dragging its feet, refusing to cooperate, even answering on where Kashoggi's body is," Khodr said, adding Erdogan had changed his rhetoric over time.

    Khodr noted in the first few weeks Erdogan avoided mentioning Prince Mohammed by name.

    However, at the G20 summit held in Argentina from November 30, Erdogan criticised MBS's explanation of Khashoggi's killing and in recent days repeatedly said the suspects in the murder case were his closest aides.

    "The feeling here is that Turkey cannot go alone. It needs the help of the international community to put pressure on Saudi Arabia, but at the same time it has to make sure not to hurt the relationship with Saudi Arabia," Khodr said.

    "Turkey repeatedly said that this is about a crime; this is not about the relationship with Saudi Arabia. But if Turkey insists on pushing this further, that relationship could be damaged. There are calls growing louder for the need for a UN-led investigation that could put pressure on Saudi Arabia."

    Working with Syria

    Cavusoglu also spoke about Syria, saying Turkey would consider working with Syrian President Bashar al-Assadif he won a democratic election.

    Russia, Turkey and Iran hold talks on Syria in Astana

    Turkey backed the opposition to Assad in the Syrian war that broke out in 2011.

    Assad, whose family has ruled for nearly five decades, managed to stay in power thanks to massive Iranian and Russian military support, but large parts of Syria remain outside his reach, including regions in the north, which are under Turkish control, and in the east, which is governed by a US-backed Kurdish-led coalition.

    Cavusoglu said he believed Trump was considering a policy of leaving Syria.

    Outgoing UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Sunday said peace in the war-wracked country could be won through a post-war "inclusive constitution".

    De Mistura is trying to set up a UN-backed constitutional committee for Syria that would include 50 members chosen by Damascus, 50 by the opposition and 50 by the United Nations, before stepping down later this month.

    "One can win territorially in conflict, especially if one has strong military support from friends, but the issue is can you win peace," he told the international conference in Doha.

    "We are getting into that phase," which includes reconstruction, rehabilitation and the return of refugees, de Mistura said.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News