Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he would tell US counterpart Donald Trump that Washington must do more to implement a ceasefire deal they agreed in order to halt Turkey’s offensive in Syria.
“I will tell him, with the use of documents, that the agreement we reached on the operation has not been fully implemented,” Erdogan told reporters as he prepared to leave for Washington.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday welcomed the announcement by Washington that it was pulling 1,000 troops out of northern Syria.
“This is a positive approach,” Erdogan told reporters, when asked about Sunday’s statement from US Pentagon chief Mark Esper.
Turkey is in the sixth day of an offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
It says it has seized control of two key towns, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, although fighting was reported as ongoing in the latter.
Erdogan said he expected Kurdish forces to withdraw from other key towns such as Manbij.
“When Manbij is evacuated, we will not go in there as Turkey. Our Arab brothers, who are the real owners, the tribes… will return there. Our approach is to ensure their return and security there,” he said.
He also said Russia — a decisive actor in the multi-faceted Syria conflict as a key backer of Damascus — was not putting obstacles in the way of an offensive on another key town, Kobani.
“There is a lot of gossip now, but it seems… there won’t be any problem in Kobani with Russia’s positive approach as of now,” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president again criticised Western allies who have come out strongly against the operation. France, Germany and Italy are among those who have suspended arms shipments to Turkey over the issue.
“Who will you side with? With your NATO ally or terrorists? They cannot answer. It is not possible to understand the goal and reason of what they are doing,” he said.
“I am thinking — is it because Turkey is the only country in NATO whose people are Muslim?”
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted: “Those who remained silent while Mosul, Raqa, and Dier al-Zor were being torn down and thousands of civilians were killed are making ‘Stop the operation’ calls… and threatening Turkey with sanctions. There is no stop until we achieve our targets.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the EU on Thursday that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticised Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.
“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,” Erdogan said in a speech to his party.
Turkey launched an operation into Syrian territory on Wednesday, aimed at combating Kurdish militants tied to insurgents in its own territory.
Erdogan said 109 “terrorists” had been killed so far in the operation, which would soon cover ground from Manbij in northern Syria to the Iraqi border some 350 kilometres (220 miles) east.
“God willing, we will crush these snakes’ heads quickly,” he said.
“What we are trying to do is prevent the establishment of a terrorist state on our southern border. This cannot happen,”
Turkey currently hosts 3.6 million refugees from the eight-year conflict in Syria — the highest number in the world.
Under a 2016 agreement with the EU, Turkey agreed to prevent refugees from leaving towards Europe in exchange for six billion euros and visa-free travel for its citizens, but has frequently criticised the lack of assistance from Brussels.
“You have never been sincere,” Erdogan said, addressing the EU.
“Now they say they will withhold three billion euros from us. Have you ever kept any promise you gave us so far? No.”
One aim of the military operation is to establish a “safe zone” in which at least one million Syrian refugees can be repatriated, after the long-term presence of refugees became an increasingly political liability.
“For those who want to return to their country but don’t have a home left anymore, we plan to build settlements for one million people, with international financing,” Erdogan said.
He also sought to assuage concerns regarding Islamic State prisoners currently held by Kurdish forces.
“Those that need to be kept in jail we will keep in jail. We will return foreigners to their home countries if they accept them back,” he said.
Former German international football Mesut Ozil was married in Istanbul on Friday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man.
The 30-year-old Ozil, who has Turkish family roots, sparked controversy last year when he was photographed with Erdogan, raising questions about the footballer’s loyalty to Germany on the eve of their disastrous 2018 World Cup campaign.
The Turkish leader arrived in the early evening for Friday’s ceremony at a luxury hotel on the banks of the Bosphorus to see the former Arsenal midfielder marry his fiancee, former Miss Turkey Amine Gulse.
A smiling Erdogan and his wife Emine were seen standing next to the young couple as their marriage was formalised.
After 92 appearances for Germany, including a key role in the 2014 World Cup victory, Ozil suddenly quit the national squad last July, accusing German football officials of racism.
Ozil announced in March that he had asked Erdogan to be his best man.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation.
Helge Braun, a CDU told the Bild newspaper then that it “makes one sad” that Ozil would make a such a move despite having already been sharply criticised by the German public over his first meeting with Erdogan.
Ozil has dated Gulse since 2017 and the couple announced their engagement in June 2018.
The footballer, a third-generation German, whipped up a political storm when he was pictured alongside Erdogan last May.
Criticism intensified after the red-faced defending champions crashed out of the first round of the World Cup in Russia.
In the wake of the World Cup fiasco, Ozil announced his resignation from the national squad, saying: “I am German when we win, an immigrant when we lose”.
Erdogan often attends marriages in Turkey of celebrities, whom he particularly seeks out during election campaigns.
His presence at Ozil’s marriage comes ahead of a mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23, required after the original voting in March was annulled following a narrow victory for the main opposition Republican People’s Party.
The latest arrest order issued in 59 cities including Istanbul comes on the heels of police raids this week seeking to detain over 300 people including military personnel suspected of ties to coup plotters.
Turkish authorities carry out raids almost daily against people suspected of supporting Gulen.
Despite criticism from rights advocates over the magnitude of the crackdown, Ankara insists the raids are essential to remove Gulen’s alleged influence in state bodies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the European Union of seeking to overthrow embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro in defiance of “democracy.”
“On one side you will say ‘democracy, democracy, democracy’ and ‘ballot box, ballot box, ballot box’ and later you will dare to topple the government by violence and ruse,” Erdogan told his ruling party lawmakers in parliament, referring to the European Union.
Major European powers including Britain, France, Germany and Spain on Monday recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president until new elections are held after Maduro rejected a European ultimatum to call fresh polls.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s partnership with the United States may be in jeopardy as ties strain, warning Ankara could start looking for new allies, in an op-ed published in the New York Times on Saturday.
Relations between the two NATO allies have sunk to their lowest point in decades over a number of issues including the detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson on terror-related charges, prompting the Turkish lira to hit record lows against the dollar.
The embattled lira tumbled 16 per cent against the dollar on Friday, with US President Donald Trump saying he had doubled steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey in comments that contributed to the currency’s further slide.
In the New York Times, Erdogan warned Washington not to risk relations with Ankara, saying otherwise his country would look for “new friends and allies”.
“Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey’s sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers that our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy,” he wrote.
“Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives,” he said.
“Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”
In a tweet, Trump announced the doubling of the tariffs — in new punitive actions against Turkey, saying: “Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”
Erdogan downplayed the currency crisis in a speech on Friday, advising Turks not to be worried over exchange rate fluctuations.
He also said Turkey had alternatives “from Iran, to Russia, to China and some European countries”.
The arrest of US pastor Brunson since October 2016 has soured already deeply delicate relations with Washington.
In the New York Times article, Erdogan said: “Attempting to force my government to intervene in the judicial process is not in line with our Constitution or our shared democratic values.”
Trump has described Brunson’s detention as a “total disgrace” and urged Erdogan to free him “immediately”
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election.
Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media And Publicity, Garba Shehu in a statement on Friday said the President Buhari looks forward to the strengthening of relations between the two countries.
“In a telephone conversation with President Erdogan this evening, President Buhari expressed the hope that the results of the recently held elections will strengthen democracy and lead Turkey towards more economic prosperity,” the statement read in part.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Monday congratulated Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election, but stressed the alliance was founded on “core values” of democracy, rights and rule of law.
Erdogan won another five years in office in Sunday’s vote and immediately pledged to implement changes that boost his authority, which opponents fear will give him autocratic powers.
Turkey is an important member of NATO because of its strategic location bordering Iraq and Syria and close to Russia, and has played a key role in the fight against the Islamic State group in the Middle East.
But there have been tensions with other alliance members, notably over Erdogan’s rapprochement with Moscow, signing a deal to buy Russian air defence missiles, and with the US over the role of Kurdish fighters in the battle against IS.
“I will congratulate President Erdogan on his re-election as president. I also congratulate the Turkish people on the high turnout in the elections,” Stoltenberg said as he arrived for a meeting with EU foreign and defence ministers in Luxembourg.
A sweeping crackdown after a failed coup to unseat Erdogan has alarmed many Western countries, with tens of thousands of people arrested.
“NATO is based on some core values: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty. I personally attach great importance to these values and I underline the importance of these values in many different NATO capitals including Ankara when I met Turkish leaders there,” Stoltenberg said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday celebrated winning five more years in office with sweeping new powers after a decisive election victory, as his main rival accepted the outcome despite bitter complaints over the conduct of the campaign.
A night of triumph for Erdogan saw the man who has dominated Turkey for the last 15 years declared the winner of Sunday’s presidential poll without needing a second round and lead his ruling party-led alliance to an overall majority in parliament.
Erdogan, whose victory was wider than predicted by many analysts, vowed to “rapidly” implement the new presidential system agreed in an April 2017 referendum that opponents fear will give him autocratic powers and could keep him in office for another decade.
The new system creates a vertical of power with Erdogan at the top, giving him the power to appoint cabinet ministers and dispensing with the office of prime minister.
The president, 64, declared victory in Istanbul before returning to Ankara to deliver a triumphant speech at 3:00 am to tens of thousands of supporters from the balcony of the headquarters of his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“Turkey has given a lesson in democracy to the entire world,” he added, pointing to a turnout of 88 percent.
– ‘One-man regime’ –
His main rival Muharrem Ince of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who had challenged Erdogan with an energetic campaign, broke an uncharacteristic overnight silence to declare on Monday he accepted the results.
“I accept these election results,” Ince said, adding Erdogan should “represent 80 million” and be “president for us all”.
But Ince, who had faced limited airtime on television in the campaign and a near boycott by state media, said the run-up to the election had been unfair.
“This election was unjust until the results were announced,” he told a news conference at CHP headquarters after ordering out crews from state-run TRT over their campaign coverage.
Ince vowed to “continue our fight until Turkey is a Turkey for everyone”, expressing alarm over the powers Erdogan assumes under the new system which he described as “a one-man regime.”
– ‘Biggest injustice’ –
According to results published by the state news agency Anadolu, Erdogan won 52.5 percent of the vote, with Ince trailing with 30.7 percent.
Final results are due to be published by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) later this week but its chairman Sadi Guven declared Erdogan the winner.
If confirmed, the results will mean Erdogan, who enjoys sky-high support in parts of the Anatolian heart of the country, improved on his 51.8 percent score in 2014.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party candidate Selahattin Demirtas came third with 8.4 percent, a position all the more remarkable given he has been jailed on charges of links to Kurdish militants since November 2016.
Nationalist politician Meral Aksener, tipped for a breakthrough after founding her new Iyi (Good) Party, suffered a disappointing night coming fourth with 7.3 percent.
With Turkey holding parliamentary and presidential elections on the same day for the first time, Erdogan was also able to enjoy an overall majority in parliament with the help of his allies from the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
The AKP won 293 seats in the 600 MP chamber but the MHP did far better than expected, winning 50 seats and giving their alliance a clear majority, according to results published by Anadolu.
The HDP easily broke through the 10 percent minimum vote threshold to pick up 67 seats, sparking wild celebrations in its Kurdish-majority stronghold of Diyarbakir.
In a tweet, Demirtas hailed a “great victory” despite suffering “the biggest injustice of the campaign”.
– ‘Great authority’ –
Congratulations for Erdogan flooded in from Turkey’s partners in the Islamic world and allies who also have tetchy relations with the West, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin who praised Erdogan’s “great political authority”.
Others congratulating Erdogan included Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir but there was no word yet from big EU states or Washington.
The European Union and United States were keeping a close eye on the poll and trans-Atlantic security body the OSCE was due to deliver its verdict on the election later Monday.
Erdogan has transformed Turkey first as prime minister from 2003 to 2014 and then as president, allowing Islam a greater role in public life and giving the country a much more assertive profile on the international stage.
But critics accuse him of ruling with an iron grip, especially after the July 2016 failed coup which was followed by a state of emergency that has seen tens of thousands of people arrested.
He has a new five-year mandate and, although the president in Turkey can serve only two terms, this will count as Erdogan’s first term under the new constitution. Consequently, he could now stay in power until 2028.
The outcome relieved investors who had feared a prolonged period of uncertainty if the election went to a second round, with the Turkish lira gaining three percent against the dollar.
Russian strongman Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election triumph, saying the result pointed to the Turkish leader’s “great political authority” and mass support.
The Kremlin said Putin had “stressed that the results of the vote fully speak of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s great political authority (and) mass support of the course conducted under his leadership to solve Turkey’s pressing social and economic tasks (and) strengthen the country’s position in the international arena.”
Erdogan — who has dominated Turkey for the last decade and a half — on Monday won five more years in office with sweeping new powers after a decisive election victory while the opposition raised questions over the conduct of the polls.
Putin stressed his readiness to continue “close joint work” and dialogue with Erdogan, who also led his ruling party-led alliance to an overall majority in parliament, the Kremlin said.
“This is certainly in the interests of the peoples of Russia and Turkey,” the Kremlin said in a statement, praising the “partner-like ties” between the two.
Putin himself extended his almost two-decade rule by winning a fourth Kremlin term in March at a time of high tension with the West.
Putin and Erdogan — who have both led their post-imperial states out of economic crisis but also into a new era of confrontation with the West — have forged an increasingly close alliance in recent months.
In a sign of the importance of the partnership, Putin went to Turkey during his first trip abroad after winning a historic fourth presidential mandate in March 18 polls.
Turkey and Russia are on opposite sides in Syria, with Moscow remaining the chief ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Ankara backing rebels seeking his ouster.
However, they have worked closely in recent months despite their differences to achieve a political solution.
Ankara-Moscow relations were tested by a severe crisis in November 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over Syria, a confrontation both sides have since tried to put behind them.