Erdogan Throws Turkey’s Support Behind Ukraine

This handout picture taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential press-service shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) welcoming Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to their talks in Lviv on August 18, 2022, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)
This handout picture taken and released by Ukrainian Presidential press-service shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) welcoming Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan prior to their talks in Lviv on August 18, 2022, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP)

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday threw Turkey’s support behind Ukraine and warned of the danger of “another Chernobyl” disaster erupting at a nuclear power plant held by invading Russian forces.

The Turkish leader met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv just two weeks after flying to Sochi for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during which the two sides pledged to boost economic cooperation.

But Erdogan told reporters that NATO member Turkey remained firmly on Ukraine’s side in the conflict and would continue its diplomatic efforts to end the fighting.

“While continuing our efforts to find a solution, we remain on the side of our Ukraine friends,” Erdogan said.

His talks with Zelensky and visiting UN chief Antonio Guterres — both men’s first since Russia’s February invasion — came with global alarm rising about fighting that has raged around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The Russian-held facility has been experiencing days of shelling.

“We are worried. We do not want another Chernobyl,” said the Turkish leader.

Erdogan only mentioned Putin once in his comments to reporters.

“We discussed the exchange of prisoners of war and our initiatives in this regard,” Erdogan said.

“We will continue to talk about that with Mr. Putin.”

AFP

Turkey Opposes NATO Membership For Finland, Sweden

A handout photograph taken and released on October 25, 2021 by the Turkish Presidential Press Service shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan giving a news conference following a cabinet meeting in Ankara. Murat KULA / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP
FILE: A handout photograph taken and released on October 25, 2021 by the Turkish Presidential Press Service shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan giving a news conference following a cabinet meeting in Ankara. Murat KULA / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkey did not have a “positive opinion” on Finland and Sweden joining NATO, throwing up a potential obstacle for the nations’ membership bid. 

The leader of NATO-member Turkey spoke ahead of expected confirmations from the Nordic nations on Sunday that they will apply to join the Western military alliance.

Erdogan accused both countries of harbouring “terrorist organisations” in his unfavourable assessment of the membership bids.

READ ALSO: Finland Will Join NATO ‘Without Delay’ – President, PM

“We do not have a positive opinion,” Erdogan told journalists after Friday prayers in Istanbul.

“Scandinavian countries are like a guesthouse for terror organisations,” he said.

Turkey has long accused Nordic countries, especially Sweden which has a strong Turkish immigrant community, of harbouring extremist Kurdish groups as well as supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a US-based preacher wanted over a failed 2016 coup.

Erdogan cited a “mistake” made by Turkey’s former rulers who okayed Greece’s NATO membership in 1952.

“We, as Turkey, do not want to make a second mistake on this issue,” he said.

Unanimous approval needed

Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has swung political and public opinion in Finland and Sweden in favour of membership as a deterrent against Russian aggression.

Both countries have long cooperated with NATO and are expected to be able to join the alliance quickly.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly said they would be welcomed “with open arms”.

Turkey’s response is the first dissenting voice against the two Nordic countries’ NATO prospects.

Sweden’s and Finland’s foreign ministers responded on Friday by saying they were hoping to meet their Turkish counterpart in Berlin at an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Saturday.

“We will then have the opportunity to discuss a potential Swedish NATO application,” Sweden’s foreign minister Ann Linde said in a statement to AFP, also noting the “Turkish government had not delivered this type of message directly to us”.

Speaking at a Helsinki press conference, Finland’s Pekka Haavisto also said he hoped to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during the weekend to “continue our discussion.”

Stockholm and Helsinki have cranked up their international contacts to seek support for their potential bids.

Once a country has decided to apply for NATO membership, the alliance’s 30 members must agree unanimously to extend a formal invitation, which is followed by membership negotiations.

The final approval could then take place at a NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June. The 30 member states would then have to ratify the decision.

Turkey, which enjoys good relations with Kyiv and Moscow, has been keen to play a mediating role to end the conflict and has offered to host a leaders’ summit.

Ankara has supplied Ukraine with combat drones but has shied away from slapping sanctions on Russia alongside Western allies.

‘Hungary of the EU’

Erdogan’s comments may also raise tensions with France, whose President Emmanuel Macron has said NATO was undergoing “brain death” partly due to Turkey’s behaviour.

Macron has made clear he supports Finland’s bid as does the United States.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday Washington was “working to clarify Turkey’s position”, adding there was “broad support” for the two countries’ joining the alliance.

The Finnish president spoke with Erdogan in April as part of consultations for its NATO bid.

“I thanked President Erdogan for his efforts for peace in Ukraine. Turkey supports Finland’s objectives,” he tweeted at the time.

Turkey’s position on Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership risks making it look like the “Hungary of the EU”, said Washington Institute fellow Soner Cagaptay.

Pro-Russia Hungary often breaks from its EU colleagues on a broad range of issues, including rule of law and human rights.

Cagaptay said Ankara should have negotiated its terror-related concerns behind closed doors with the two countries.

“The fact that this is done publicly is going to hurt Ankara’s image significantly,” he said.

But Erdogan is “a clever tactician”, said Elisabeth Braw, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

“He knows that this is an opportunity for Turkey to get something from NATO member states… F-35s, for example,” she said, referring to US defence giant Lockheed Martin’s jets.

AFP

Turkish President Erdogan Tests Positive For COVID-19

File photo of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. PHOTO: BULENT KILIC / AFP

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday he had tested positive for Covid-19 but was not experiencing severe symptoms.

“After experiencing light symptoms, my wife and I tested positive for Covid-19. We have a mild infection thankfully, which we learned to be the Omicron variant,” the 67-year-old president said in a tweet.

“We remain on duty. We will continue our work from home. We hope for your prayers,” Erdogan added.

“God willing we will shake this infection off together with Mr Tayyip,” his 66-year-old wife, Emine Erdogan, tweeted.

The Turkish president received his third vaccine dose in June last year.

READ ALSO: Compulsory Vaccination Rules Come Into Force In Austria

Turkey has recorded around 12 million cases of Covid-19 and nearly 90,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Turkey requires people to isolate for seven days if they test positive. However, if they test negative on the fifth day, they can leave quarantine.

The country’s daily number of cases has risen to over 100,000 in recent weeks, which officials have attributed to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Masks are widely used in Turkey but there are no restrictions with schools and universities still open, and life continuing as normal without curfews.

The latest official figures on Saturday showed 52.5 million have had their second vaccine dose in Turkey, which has a population of around 85 million.

More than 25 million Turks have also got their third dose and officials continue to push for citizens to get vaccinated.

AFP

Turkey Probes Tweets About President Erdogan’s Health

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech after cabinet meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara on November 3, 2020. Adem ALTAN / AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech after cabinet meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara on November 3, 2020. Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

Turkey’s cyber police on Wednesday launched a legal probe into “baseless” social media posts speculating about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s health.

In a statement, the police said they were investigating 30 people who used or retweeted the hashtag #olmus (#heisdead), which became a top trending topic of Turkish Twitter.

Underscoring the government’s sensitivity about the posts, Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun tweeted a short clip on Wednesday showing the Turkish leader walking out of his official car along a turquoise carpet.

“Trust to friends, fear to enemies,” Altun wrote.

Rumours about the health of Erdogan, 67, have been swirling for years, with one of his doctors going on record in 2011 to deny that the Turkish leader had cancer.

In 2011, Erdogan, then prime minister, underwent laparoscopic gastrointestinal surgery and has been walking more gingerly ever since.

Erdogan was last seen in public on Sunday, when he met US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

He then cancelled his planned attendance at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow citing a dispute over the security protocol.

The latest wave of speculation appears to have been prompted by Erdogan’s failure to attend a ceremony of his ruling party, which on Wednesday celebrated the 19th anniversary of its rise to power.

Buhari To Host Turkish President Erdogan In Abuja

A photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
A photo combination of President Muhammadu Buhari and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is to host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Abuja on a two-day official visit.

This is according to a statement signed by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Tuesday.

Erdogan is expected to fly in from Angola, accompanied by the Turkish First Lady, Mrs. Emine Erdogan.

He is to depart for Togo at the end of his visit.

READ ALSO: Buhari Hails Gowon At 87

“In the course of the visit, the leaders of the two countries are expected to consider about two dozen Bilateral Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, MOUs and they will authorize the signing of those on which there is a concurrence,” Shehu’s statement said.

“In addition to the bilateral discussions, President Erdogan will hold one-on-one meeting with President Buhari and he is expected to commission the Turkish Cultural Centre in Abuja while his wife, Emine, accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari is expected to commission the newly-renovated Government Secondary School in Wuse 11.

“The school was renovated by a Turkish aid organization, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordinating Agency, TIKA.

“Nigeria considers Turkey a close partner and sees this visit as a milestone in our bilateral relations.”

Turkish President Erdogan Congratulates Biden, Thanks Trump

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech after cabinet meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara on November 3, 2020. Adem ALTAN / AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech after cabinet meeting at Presidential Complex in Ankara on November 3, 2020. Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday congratulated Joe Biden on his victory over Donald Trump in the US presidential election, urging closer ties between the two NATO allies. 

Erdogan’s statement came a full three days after US media called the election in Biden’s favour, underscoring the close personal bond the Turkish leader enjoyed with Trump.

Erdogan also sent a message to Trump, saying that “no matter how the official election result is certified,” he wanted to express thanks for his “warm friendship” during his four-year term.

But Ankara and Washington also experienced tensions under Trump’s watch, including over US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia that Turkey views as a grave security threat.

Erdogan told Biden that he wanted “to further develop and strengthen” ties.

“I congratulate you on your election success and convey my sincere wishes for the peace and welfare of the US people,” Erdogan said in a statement published by his office.

Other issues standing between Ankara and Washington include Turkey’s purchase of a high-tech Russian missile defence system, and US refusal to extradite a Muslim cleric Erdogan blames for staging a failed 2016 coup.

Turkish officials have been alarmed by an interview Biden gave to The New York Times in December in which he called Erdogan an “autocrat”.

Biden criticised the Turkish leader’s policies towards the Kurds and said Washington needed to “embolden” his rivals to allow them “to take on and defeat Erdogan”.

Erdogan’s spokesman said in August that the remarks showed “pure ignorance, arrogance, and hypocrisy”.

The Turkish leader did not directly address them in his statement Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have yet to congratulate Biden.

 

AFP

Turkey Condemns Bahrain, Israel Accord

President of Turkey and leader of Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at the party’s group meeting at Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, on February 12, 2020. Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

Turkey strongly condemned the deal between Israel and Bahrain to normalise relations, describing it as a “fresh blow” to the Palestinian cause.

US President Donald Trump Friday announced the “peace deal” between Israel and Bahrain, which becomes the second Arab country to settle with its former foe in less than a month.

Turkey’s foreign ministry late Friday said Ankara was “concerned” by the move and “strongly condemned” the deal.

“The step will be a fresh blow to efforts to defend the Palestinian cause and will further embolden Israel to continue its illegal practices toward Palestine and its attempts to make the occupation of Palestinian territories permanent,” the ministry said in a statement.

It said the move was contrary to the commitments under the Arab Peace Initiative — which calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967 — and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a pious Muslim, is a strong advocate of Palestinian rights who has frequently criticised Israeli policies in the West Bank.

After last month’s deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Erdogan warned Turkey could suspend diplomatic relations with the Gulf state in response.

AFP

Turkish Court Ignores Calls For Release Of Businessman Charged With Treason

 

 

 

A Turkish court on Tuesday ignored calls to release a businessman charged with seeking to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, despite a ruling by Europe’s top rights body.

Osman Kavala, a leading figure in Turkey’s civil society who has funded projects across the country, has been in pre-trial detention since November 2017.

Turkish prosecutors accuse him and 15 other leading figures in civil society of involvement in anti-Erdogan protests in 2013 and the failed coup in 2016.

Kavala, who appeared in the dock wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt, dismissed the charges as “completely groundless”, according to an AFP correspondent in court.

“The 657-page indictment… proves I am innocent rather than guilty,” he told the court.

“I demand this unlawful and discriminatory practice that placed me in prison for two years come to an end,” he added.

The Turkish court in Silivri in the outskirts of Istanbul set the next hearing for January 28.

The crowd applauded Kavala as he was led from the courtroom, saluting his supporters.

– European court ruling –

Two weeks ago, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) urged Turkey to “take every measure to put an end” to Kavala’s detention and “to secure his immediate release”.

In a damning ruling, the ECHR said Kavala was being held “not only on acts that could not be reasonably considered as behaviour criminalised under domestic law” but which were also protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Critics have denounced the charges as politically motivated and an example of Turkey’s crackdown on civil society.

But Erdogan has accused Kavala of being a Turkish agent of US financier George Soros.

Turkish MPs from opposition parties as well as diplomats from foreign consulates and international observers attended the Christmas Eve hearing in a show of solidarity.

Among them was Sergey Lagodinsky, chair of the European Parliament’s EU-Turkey Delegation.

Ankara had failed to implement the European court’s ruling which had sent “a very strong signal to the judges and the government in Turkey”, he told AFP.

“I think for a country that has, in its constitution and its legal framing, European human rights standards as part of its legal DNA, this is a very  disappointing outcome.”

– Police testimony –

Canan Kaftancioglu, head of the opposition CHP party in Istanbul, said the rule of law was not functioning in Turkey.

“Kavala should not have remained in prison even one second after the European court’s ruling,” she told AFP.

The court also heard testimonies from two police officers who were on duty during the 2013 mass protests in Istanbul.

“In my personal opinion, Gezi was a protest that exceeded its purpose and caused serious damage,” said one of the officers, Ercan Orhan Aydin.

The nationwide protests in 2013, which threw up one of the biggest challenges to Erdogan, then prime minister, were sparked by the government plans to demolish Gezi park — the only green space in the centre of the city.

But the police officer said he did not know any of the defendants and was not aware whether they were involved in any violent act at the time.

“I saw Osman Kavala here for the first time,” he said, when asked by the defence lawyer.

A respected figure in intellectual circles, Kavala is chairman of the Anatolian Culture Foundation, which promotes human rights through art, including with neighbouring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties

Iran Says Turkish Bases In Syria Would Be ‘Unacceptable’

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at a conference that Iran is hosting on unilateralism and international law at the Allameh Tabataba’i University in the capital Tehran on October 21, 2019. PHOTO: ATTA KENARE / AFP

 

Iran on Monday denounced as “unacceptable” any move by Turkey to establish military bases in Syria, saying such a step would face opposition from the Islamic republic and other countries.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey would set up 12 observation posts inside Syria as he warned Ankara would restart an operation against Kurdish forces across the border.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi criticised the planned move in response to a question at a news conference.

“The Turks can have any bases and can do anything on their own territory and within their borders, but if you mean… establishing Turkish bases in Syria, this is unacceptable,” Mousavi said in remarks aired on state television.

Such a step, he said, would be seen by Iran as an “aggression against the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent country.

“Naturally it will face opposition from the Islamic Republic of Iran and other countries,” Mousavi added.

Iran has repeatedly called for an immediate halt to the Turkish offensive in Syria, launched on October 9 after the United States announced it would withdraw all its troops from the area.

A US-brokered ceasefire gives Kurdish forces until Tuesday evening to withdraw from a buffer area Turkey wants to create on Syrian territory along its southern frontier.

In his remarks on Friday, Erdogan said the proposed “safe zone” would be 32 kilometres (20 miles) deep, and 444 kilometres in length, and patrolled by Turkey.

But, he said, “We have no intention to stay there. This is out of the question.”

AFP

Erdogan Calls Ozil, Hails Decision To Quit German Team

This picture taken on May 13, 2018 and released on May 14, 2018 by the Turkish Presidential Press office Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) poses for a photo with German footballers of Turkish origin Ilkay Gundogan (L) and Mesut Ozil (2nd L) in London. 
KAYHAN OZER / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE / AFP

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said he had spoken to Turkish-origin football star Mesut Ozil after his decision to quit the German team on the grounds of racism, offering his praise for the move.

“Last night I spoke to Mesut. His attitude in the statement is completely patriotic.

“It is not possible to accept this kind of racist attitude towards a young man who poured so much sweat for the German national team’s success. This cannot be tolerated,” Erdogan said, quoted by state TRT Haber broadcaster.

Ozil’s decision to quit playing for Germany and his strongly-worded four-page statement caused uproar in Germany even as it was applauded by Turkish ministers.

He had faced heavy criticism during the World Cup, especially over a controversial photograph with Erdogan in May ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls in Turkey.

Ozil, a key member of the squad which won the 2014 World Cup, criticised the German Football Association (DFB) bosses, sponsors and the media.

He lamented a lack of support from DFB president Reinhard Grindel.

“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil, 29, wrote.

But the association said in a statement on Monday that it rejected “the notion that the DFB is associated with racism”.

In his statement, Ozil addressed critics of the photo and said that he was not making a political statement when he appeared with the Turkish leader before the World Cup finals.

“I have two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” said Ozil.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul on Monday congratulated Ozil, saying he had “scored the most beautiful goal against the virus of fascism.”

AFP

Turkish Cartoonist Jailed For Insulting Erdogan

President of Turkey and the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the AK Party’s parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on May 8, 2018. PHOTO: ADEM ALTAN / AFP

 

Turkish police have jailed one of the country’s most prominent cartoonists to serve out a 14-month sentence.

He was first handed down last year on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

Nuri Kurtcebe, 69, was detained and sent to prison on Monday after a police check found him on a bus travelling in the northwestern Turkish city of Yalova, the private Dogan news agency reported.

His lawyer, Erdem Akyuz, told the media that the authorities were enforcing the sentence after an appeal was turned down by an upper court.

Kurtcebe was sentenced to a one year, two months and 15 days jail term for several caricatures he drew in 2015.

As it is customary in Turkey, he had been allowed to remain free while the appeal was pending. But once the appeal was rejected, an arrest warrant was issued.

“What is recognised all over the world is that artists express their work freely and that politicians, compared to others, are more tolerant to criticism,” Akyuz was quoted as saying by Dogan.

Akyuz also said that it was not clear in the court’s ruling which cartoons or expressions were the source of the charges.

Kurtcebe, whose daily cartoons were published in the Aydinlik newspaper, also drew for a number of publications including Hurriyet and opposition Cumhuriyet newspapers as well as satirical magazine Girgir.

Musa Kart, a Cumhuriyet cartoonist who was sentenced to three years and nine months jail in April on charges of aiding outlawed “terrorist organisations” along with several other staff, lashed out at the court’s verdict.

“It seems that the ruling party has not yet given up on its idea of neutralising cartoonists with prison sentences,” he said, quoted by Cumhuriyet.

“I hope and wish that this political climate deprived of a sense of humour will change on June 25,” he said.

Turkey is heading for parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24 when Erdogan is seeking a new mandate under the expanded powers of a full executive presidency.

Thousands of Turks, from a top model to high school students, have been prosecuted on charges of insulting Erdogan since he became president in 2014.

AFP

Turkey-Netherlands Row: Dutch Ambassador Barred

Courtesy: http://www.bbc.com/
Courtesy: http://www.bbc.com/

As a diplomatic row between Turkey and the Netherlands deepens, Ankara said it has barred the Dutch Ambassador from returning to the country, and also suspended high level political talks.

This is in retaliation of a Dutch decision to block Turkey’s Ministers from campaigning for a referendum.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands have all blocked Turkish attempts to hold rallies in their countries.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused the Dutch and Germans of Nazism.

The proposed rallies aimed at encouraging a large number of Turks living in Europe to vote yes, in a referendum on April 16 to expand the President’s powers.