LONDON – Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan criticized the Duchess of York and a British television channel Friday for alleging that children have been mistreated at government-run orphanages.
Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Britain's Prince Andrew, and her eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice, took part in the British television program and made an undercover trip to Turkey to examine the orphanages.
Secretly filmed images appeared to show children tied to their beds or left in cribs at an orphanage near the capital city of Ankara.
The program, broadcast Thursday on Britain's ITV, said the treatment of orphans could call into question Turkey's readiness to join the European Union. Turkey is seeking to become a member of the 27-nation EU, and is supported by the British government.
Some Turkish authorities have accused the duchess of attempting to smear the country's reputation.
Babacan told reporters in London on Friday that an inquiry into the allegations is under way. But he criticized the undercover inquiry and said its methods risked upsetting the orphans.
The orphanage featured in the program cares for children with learning disabilities, Babacan said.
"These children are sick; these children are mentally disabled," Babacan said following talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. "Doing such kind of a visit, in a secretive way, with a hidden camera and in disguise ... is not the proper way."
ITV said it had filmed at several orphanages.
Babacan insisted Turkey would address any problems. "We are not ignoring the problems. We are working hard for solutions," he said.
Miliband said alleged mistreatment of children was a "source of concern to any human being." But he said Turkey's decision to investigate showed it was taking the matter seriously.