Turkey has summoned Sweden’s ambassador after Stockholm accused Ankara of legalising sex with children, the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom had tweeted on her official account that the “Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed”, following a controversial ruling by the Turkish constitutional court.
“It is a scandal for a foreign minister to post such a tweet based on false news or speculation,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in televised comments, adding that the Swedish ambassador to Ankara had been summoned to his ministry. Cavusoglu blasted the “unacceptable” tweet, saying Wallstrom should have acted “responsibly”.
“A foreign minister should not tell lies and should not adopt an approach accusing Turkey,” Cavusoglu said. “Yes to criticism but this is a slander, a lie.” Turkey’s top constitutional court in July annulled a provision punishing as “sexual abuse” all sexual acts involving children under the age of 15, responding to a petition brought by a lower court.
The court has given a six-month period for parliament to make this law. The lower court that brought the petition was worried there was no distinction between cases of sexual acts involving a young teenager or a toddler. The legal age of consent in Turkey remains 18 and was not affected by the ruling. But it drew a furious response from activists worried it would open the way for unpunished child sexual abuse.
Cavusoglu said the Turkish government was determined to fight child abuse and added the justice ministry was currently working on new rules. In a war of words with Stockholm on Twitter, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told Wallstrom: “You are clearly misinformed. There is no such stupid thing in Turkey. Please get your facts right.”