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Protest vs. Turkey over misunderstanding with BARMM aborted

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has aborted plans to file a diplomatic protest against Turkey over its engagements with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) after ironing out the “misunderstanding” with the Turkish envoy in Manila on Friday night.

“I met with Turkish Amb. Artemiz Sümer to clear up the misunderstanding. We both agreed to continue to coordinate all engagements with BARMM together,” Locsin said on his official Twitter account. “I reaffirmed to my good friend Amb. Sümer that my affection for Turkey has only increased with the swift resolution of this issue.”

In what is now a deleted tweet, Locsin threatened to break diplomatic ties with Turkey and made public his plans to file a note verbale against the latter and charges against Filipino BARMM officials involved in Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim’s visit to Turkey.

“Aborted. Swift response from the Turkish ambassador. All cleared up,” he said when asked to elaborate.

In a December 14 news release by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim was reported to have met with Turkish ministers on health, agriculture, and housing development. He also met with the Turkish deputy ministers for foreign affairs, the Turkish Coordination and Cooperation Agency, Office of the President for Turks Abroad and Related Communities, as well as the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.

According to a summary of points the top diplomat earlier posted on Twitter, the Turkish national agencies have expressed interest in entering formal agreements with the BARMM, instead of the Philippine government.

In a separate statement, Locsin noted that the Philippines has only one armed forces and one foreign affairs department.

“A sovereign state has only one armed forces and one ministry of foreign affairs to handle all foreign matters. All. Tens of thousands of Filipino soldiers gave their lives in Mindanao for that principle,” he said.

The DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns has initially recommended the meeting be postponed as the information on the visit “did not go through the proper vetting process”.

However, the meeting had already occurred when the DFA-Office for European Affairs (OEA) requested the Turkish Embassy in Manila to postpone it.

The summary of points added that Philippine Ambassador to Ankara Raul Hernandez was only invited to the meetings following the DFA’s request for an invitation from Turkish officials. It also noted some “unofficial information” that the Turkish side “thought it was ok” to invite the BARMM chief minister as he had the authority to travel.

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