A news ticker in Vienna’s Schwechat International Airport in Austria displayed a headline claiming Turkey allows sex with children under the age of 15. After Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and Embassy of Vienna took action, the displayed headline was removed. Charge d'affairs for Austria was called to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to express Turkey’s stance on the situation.Furthermore, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the following in their press release: “A falsified headline, claiming that abuse of children under the age of 15 is allowed in Turkey, was displayed on an electronic news ticker of “Kronen Zeitung” newspaper at the passenger lounge of the Vienna International Airport on 13 August 2016. This headline does not reflect the truth at all. Another headline reading that “Through vacation in Turkey you only support Erdoğan” was intentionally displayed on the same ticker in the near past. We deplore and strongly condemn that an international airport, which is located in the centre of Europe and intensely used by passengers from different countries, is abused by a discredited newspaper to spread its irresponsible, distorted and falsified messages in order to defame a friendly country and its nation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the necessary steps through the Austrian Embassy in Ankara and the Turkish Embassy in Vienna also conveyed its reaction about the matter on the same day. Turkey is a state that always aims at protecting and improving the universal human rights and is committed itself to the international conventions in the field of child rights and their additional protocols both verbally and spiritually, as an esteemed member of the international community. Turkey is aware of its responsibilities and duties in this field. A country in a position of the rising centre of racism and xenophobia ever increasing in Europe should focus on healing these diseases through its politicians, media and society. Instead, some irresponsible media may falsify and reflect even judicial decisions in another country to feed their hateful and hostile discourses against a society and we consider it as a manifestation of these diseases.
Unfortunately, the statements of some Austrian politicians and officials against Turkey and EU membership of Turkey encourage such defamatory news. This tendency damages social harmony and peace in Austria where more than 300 thousand people of Turkish origin live.”After the headline was displayed, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström shared a message from her official Twitter account, saying: “Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed. Children need more protection, not less, against violence, sex abuse”. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek replied to this tweet and said: “You are clearly misinformed. There is no such stupid thing in Turkey. Please get your facts right”. After the tweet of Wallström, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the following statement from their official website:“The statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden released over social media is first of all improper for a Minister of Foreign Affairs as it is based on inaccurate and groundless information. Our Government is strongly determined to put an end to child molestation and fight against it. In fact, the TGNA had adopted an Act which increased the penalty imposed on the offenders abusing the children under the age of fifteen. However, the Constitutional Court quashed it for being disproportional and gave the TGNA a period of six months for a new regulation. The Ministry of Justice is working on it. But, the law is already in effect; that is the law put in effect before the aggravated law.
There is no legal vacuum regarding this matter. An approach implying that a Government acting in such a sensitive way regarding child molestation overlooks the molestation of children under the age of fifteen cannot be associated with good will. And it is also scandalous that a Minister of Foreign Affairs posts such a tweet based on such inaccurate reports. Our Ambassador will meet her today. We will also summon the Ambassador of Sweden to our Ministry. I had already requested to talk with her today. I will talk to her personally about this mistake on the phone. This is not admissible. A Minister of Foreign Affairs should be responsible and should not lie. She should not have such an accusatory attitude of Turkey. Criticism is acceptable; however, this is defamation and fabrication. We have been stating this recently: this is a reflection of racism and Islamophobia in Europe. It is also worrying that this campaign of defamation has spread to Sweden from Austria, which is the capital of racism and Islamophobia”.Age of sexual consent in Turkey is 18 and along with Malta, it is the highest in Europe. Couple weeks ago, same newspaper covered another story on the same billboard saying that “Going to Turkey means supporting Erdogan”. It was also part of an interview that was asking questions to citizens whether they would want to go to Turkey. Eventually, MevlütÇavuşoğlu put diplomatic efforts to remove these posters. Schwechat, Europe’s busiest 24th airport, had a similar statement for the second time that contains hostility against Turkey and this is demonstrating the increasing xenophobia and Islamophobia, which is also targeting Turkey.Öykü Deniz Aytemiz

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