Turkish envoy criticized in Algeria after election question

May 14, 2012, Monday/ 17:22:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkish Ambassador to Algeria Ahmet Necati Bigalı has reportedly found himself in the middle of a controversy in Algeria after asking a question to a delegation of international observers at a press conference about the election results held in Algeria.

Bigalı attended a press conference organized by an EU team of election observers that had visited Algeria to monitor the country’s parliamentary elections held on Thursday. The Turkish envoy asked José Ignacio Salafranca, head of the EU team, why Algerian officials and the state television did not publish a provincial breakdown of results for each party. Salafranca said in response that the election results will be announced by the Constitutional Council. But the fact that the Turkish ambassador asked a question at the press conference sparked criticism in the Algerian media, which described it as Turkey’s “intervention into Algerian domestic politics,” news portal reported on Monday.

The newspaper Liberté said the Turkish ambassador intervened into Algeria’s internal affairs, criticizing his attendance at the press conference, which it said was held for national and international media representatives.

The newspaper L’Expression also published a critical article titled “Turkish Ambassador to Algeria goes beyond his diplomatic role.” The newspaper said that Turkey appears to believe that Algeria is still ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Pointing out that Bigalı was not invited to the press conference, L’Expression noted that the question asked by Bigalı represented “a particular political attitude” and “an intervention into internal affairs of a sovereign state.” L’Expression also argued that the position of Turkey’s ambassador reflected “Turkey’s enthusiasm to export its model to Arabic states.”

Bigalı, in a written statement sent to L’Expression, defended his attendance at the press conference, saying that the event was open to the public, that there were 12 foreign ambassadors together with him there and that he merely used his freedom to ask a question. “Asking a question is not a political attitude at all. I am aware of my responsibility to avoid interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign country with which we have excellent relations.”

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