Even though the meeting of the Turkish cabinet is still ongoing (a press conference is expected at around 7pm local time), it seems that President Tayyip Erdogan will not follow through on his previous threat to declare ten Western Ambassadors “personae non gratae.”
The pro-Justice and Development (AKP) media in Turkey has been in full spin mode after some of the Embassies involved in the crisis issued a statement. The Embassies in question have simply reiterated their compliance with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. While the diplomats are saying that what they did is legitimate (in relation to the statement they signed in support of the imprisoned Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala), pro- government media commentators are re-framing it as backtracking by the foreign diplomats and, as such, a victory for Erdogan. Turkish media outlets are also reporting that Erdogan welcomed the announcement by the Embassies. Given the government’s tight control of the media, it would be very unusual for these outlets to engage in such reporting without the consent of the presidential palace.
In short, our overall impression is that the Turkish media is preparing the choreography for Erdogan’s likely reversal on the matter. Just like in various past occasions, it seems Erdogan has been playing an expensive high-stakes game for short-term political gains.