As Turkey continues to attract criticism for transferring the murder trial of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to Riyadh, an aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Turkey did what it could regarding the murder of the journalist.
“We did not initiate any contact with Saudi Arabia for three years. Turkey reacted very harshly [to the murder], it did what it could. Sometimes the rulings handed down by the courts fail to satisfy the public’s desire for justice,” Kalın said in televised remarks on Monday.
The 59-year-old journalist was killed inside the Saudi Consulate General in İstanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 in a gruesome murder that shocked the world. Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to get papers for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancée.
In a controversial decision in April, an İstanbul court confirmed a halt of the trial in absentia of 26 suspects linked to the killing of Khashoggi and its transfer to Riyadh, a decision that has angered rights groups.
Last week Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman paid a visit to Turkey as Ankara and Riyadh move on from the murder of Khashoggi. Erdoğan had already visited Saudi Arabia in late April, where he met with the prince before traveling to Mecca.
“We did not have very serious problems with Saudi Arabia until the Khashoggi murder. The Khashoggi murder created a big trauma. I think Turkey did the most it could at the time,” said Kalın.
In an implicit reference to bin Salman, Erdoğan previously said the “highest levels” of the Saudi government ordered the killing, and Turkey angered the Saudis by vigorously pursuing the case, opening an investigation and briefing international media about the lurid details of the murder.
Subsequently, Saudi Arabia sought unofficially to put pressure on Turkey’s economy, with a boycott on Turkish imports.
Last year, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited Riyadh to mend fences with the kingdom.
Erdoğan’s change of attitude concerning the Khashoggi murder is being associated with high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis a year before a presidential election as he seeks backing and investment from Gulf countries.
Five people were handed death sentences by the kingdom over Khashoggi’s killing, but a Saudi court in September 2020 overturned them while giving jail terms of up to 20 years to eight unnamed defendants following secretive legal proceedings.