Tag Archives: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s Erdogan accuses US of being supportive of terrorism in Iraq.

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The US State Department on Sunday it “deplores the death of Turkish citizens” but was waiting for further confirmation that Ankara’s account of the 13 men’s death was true.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday accused the United States of siding with “terrorists” after blaming outlawed Kurdish militants of executing 13 Turks in northern Iraq.

Erdogan’s comments came a day after Ankara said Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels had killed 13 captives — most of them Turkish soldiers and police officers — they had allegedly abducted in southeast Turkey and kept in an Iraqi cave.

The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 that is believed to have left tens of thousands dead.

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The United States and Turkey’s other Western allies recognise the PKK as a terror group.

But Washington has supported another Kurdish militia in Syria that Turkey sees as an offshoot of the PKK.

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Turkey this month launched a military operation against rear PKK bases in northern Iraq that Erdogan said on Monday was designed in part to free the 13 hostages.

“The statement made by the United States is a farce,” Erdogan said in his first public comments on the incident.

“You said you did not support terrorists, when in fact you are on their side and behind them,” Erdogan said in televised remarks.

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The US State Department on Sunday it “deplores the death of Turkish citizens” but was waiting for further confirmation that Ankara’s account of the 13 men’s death was true.

The PKK said the 13 died when Turkish forces bombed the cave where the men were being kept.

“If reports of the death of Turkish civilians at the hands of the PKK, a designated terrorist organisation, are confirmed, we condemn this action in the strongest possible terms,” the State Department said in a statement.

Erdogan said Turkey’s NATO allies had to pick sides.

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“After this, there are two options. Either act with Turkey with no ifs or buts, without questioning, or they will be a partner to every murder and bloodshed,” he said.

“The terrorist organisation on our doorstep, on our borders, is killing innocents.”

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#Newsworthy

Turkish politics ‘choked’ amid Erdogan’s call to alter constitution.

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Under Turkish law, changes require 400 lawmakers to pass without a need for a referendum.

Four years after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed sweeping powers, he has wrong-footed his opponents once again by calling for a new constitution, sparking accusations of trying to set up a diversion from the country’s woes.

Taking seemingly everyone off guard, Erdogan mentioned early last week during one of his near-daily speeches that “it may be time for Turkey to reopen the debate about a new constitution”.

The timing aroused immediate suspicions over the intentions of a man who has been at the apex of Turkish political life since 2003, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president.

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The 66-year-old Turkish leader is facing a sudden burst of student protests, an economy that was under strain even before the coronavirus pandemic struck last year, and polls showing a melting support base.

The current constitution was changed in a controversial 2017 referendum which created an executive presidency.

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It went into force barely a year later when Erdogan won re-election, with the amendments allowing him to consolidate his power.

Since then the only politicians demanding constitutional changes have been members of the opposition, all calling for a return to the previous parliamentary democracy.

Few think this is what Erdogan has in mind.

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“This is only an attempt to change the agenda so that the economy, the pandemic, farmers’ concerns, traders’ worries and rights violations aren’t discussed,” Idris Sahin, deputy chairman of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), told AFP.

DEVA was launched last year by Ali Babacan, a former Erdogan ally who won the West’s trust as economy minister.

Turkish President and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during his party’s group meeting at the Turkish Grand National Assembly in Ankara on February 10, 2021. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

‘Not sincere’
Sahin dismissed Erdogan’s move as “absolutely not a sincere idea”, describing it instead as a belated response to opposition parties’ attempts to dilute the executive presidency.

He surmised that the president’s team realised that “for the first time, they weren’t setting the agenda. They lagged behind the opposition.”

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Last month, Babacan and Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the main opposition CHP party agreed to work together on a “strengthened parliamentary system”.

Aware of these efforts weeks before the president took his stand, Erdogan’s coalition partner Devlet Bahceli of the ultranationalist MHP branded attempts to tinker with the executive presidency as “proof of desperation”.

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Bahceli also suggested changing the law on political parties, further fuelling speculation that he wields outsized power despite being Erdogan’s junior partner, and was a major instigator behind the president’s call for a new basic law.

The MHP leader soon also backed the move.

But, like DEVA’s Sahin, a Western diplomat was sceptical that Erdogan is angling for actual changes.

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“In the short term, the main objective seems to be to divide the opposition by forcing parties to take a stance on the constitutional debate which will probably be framed along the lines of ‘with or against Turkey’,” the diplomat told AFP.

‘Not serious’
Some think that if Erdogan does have anything specific in mind, it could be about scrapping an electoral rule that requires a presidential candidate to garner more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a second round.

“At this stage, this is not a serious or a well-developed proposal,” said Galip Dalay of the Robert Bosch Academy and Chatham House.

But “if he goes for the change of constitution, his main goal would be to change the requirement of the election of the president,” Dalay said

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Aysuda Kolemen of Berlin’s Bard College agreed, projecting a scenario in which the opposition would have to rally behind a single candidate to challenge Erdogan in the next presidential vote, expected in 2023.

“If they can’t, Erdogan can win again,” Kolemen said.

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But nothing is certain. Last week, the independent newspaper Cumhuriyet said the 50 percent-plus-one threshold would remain unchanged.

Tough sell
Either way, Erdogan faces an uphill struggle to get any new constitution approved.

Under Turkish law, changes require 400 lawmakers to pass without a need for a referendum. With 360 votes, a proposal can be put to the people.

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Since Erdogan’s AKP party and the MHP have only 337 votes, they would need to work with at least some of the opposition to get changes through.

Another question is whether the public would support a new basic law.

“Selling a new constitution just four years after a profound overhaul is not going to be easy,” the Western diplomat said.

DEVA Party’s Sahin voiced similar thoughts.

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“The changes are so new. Won’t people ask, do you want a constitution for you or for society?” Sahin asked.

“Unfortunately recent constitutional changes turned into something done for one man’s welfare and future. So it’s not possible for the public to support it.”

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#Newsworthy

Breaking: Erdogan assures reconciliation of EU ties.

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The EU, in turn, has threatened Ankara with sanctions, including ones on arms exports, various times since August.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he wants to improve relations with the European Union, following a longstanding dispute with Greece and recent feuds with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

During a televised meeting with EU ambassadors on Tuesday, Erdogan softened some of his toughest rhetoric and took a conciliatory tone.

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“We are ready to put our relations back on track,” Erdogan told the ambassadors, whom he addressed from his presidential compound in Ankara. “We expect our European friends to show the same goodwill.”


Turkey: Berat, Erdogan’s son-in-law resigns as deputy head of sovereign wealth fund

East Mediterranean: Turkish leader, Erdogan threatens Greece.

Turkey blows hot over Iran’s ‘abusive language’ against Erdogan

Turkey has resumed drilling in east Mediterranean – Erdogan says


On Monday, in another sign of easing relations, Turkey and Greece said they were willing to resume exploratory talks regarding their disputes over contested East Mediterranean waters and other issues.

“We believe that the exploratory talks … will be the harbinger of a new era,” Erdogan said on Tuesday.

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Regarding France, a country which Erdogan has severely criticised in recent months over its foreign policy and fragile relationship with the Muslim world, he added: “We want to save our relations with France from tensions.”

Last year, Erdogan said Macron needed “mental checks” over his plan to reform Islam in France, while Turkey’s foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya and parts of the Middle East irked several EU countries.

But as Ankara and Athens looked set to address their longstanding disputes at the exploratory talks in Istanbul on January 25, hopes have risen for a more harmonious 2021.

This month’s meeting will be the first since negotiations between the two uneasy NATO neighbours were suspended in 2016 after 60 fruitless rounds of talks stretching back 14 years.

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Plans to restart of discussions last year foundered after disagreement about the Turkish seismic exploration vessel, Oruc Reis, deployed to disputed waters. The ship has since returned.

The two countries are at odds about the limits of their continental shelves, energy rights, air space and the status of some islands.

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Their dispute threatened to spill into open conflict when Turkish and Greek warships collided in August while shadowing Oruc Reis as it surveyed for oil and gas in the waters in west of Cyprus.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan – Turkish President

Turkey rejects the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, saying Ankara is in favour of resolving all issues through international law.

Turkey drives to join EU
Meanwhile, Ankara and EU officials are about to launch a rare round of shuttle diplomacy that could set their relations on a more cooperative course.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will visit Brussels on January 21 while European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel are expected in Turkey by the end of the month.

Erdogan noted on Tuesday that Turkey’s drive to join the EU – formally launched in 2005 but effectively suspended – could gain fresh impetus after the UK’s departure from the bloc.

“The uncertainty increased with Brexit could be overcome with Turkey taking its deserved place in the EU family,” Erdogan said.

“We have never abandoned full membership (goal) despite double standards and injustice.”

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Turkey’s accession talks have been sidelined by European concerns about Erdogan’s human rights record.

“It is in our hand to make the year 2021 a success in Turkey-EU relations,” he said on Tuesday.

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#Newsworthy

Turkey: Berat, Erdogan’s son-in-law resigns as deputy head of sovereign wealth fund

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Yet Albayrak still held on to his post as deputy head of the sovereign wealth fund, which was created in 2016 and now manages state assets officially valued at $22.6 billion.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law quit as the deputy head of Turkey’s huge sovereign wealth fund, completing a fall from grace that began with his surprise resignation as finance minister.

Berat Albayrak had been viewed as Turkey’s second most powerful figure until his chaotic departure from the government at the start of the month.

Married to the Turkish leader’s elder daughter, the 42-year-old quit as finance minister in a cryptic November 8 message on Instagram that cited health reasons.

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His resignation from the helm of the Turkish economy was ignored by state media for more than 24 hours, until it was formally accepted by Erdogan the next night.

Albayrak’s two-year tenure as economy chief saw the lira lose 40 percent of its value against the dollar and the central bank burn though most of its reserves in trying to defend the currency.

Berat Albayrak speaks during a presentation to announce his economic policy in Istanbul, Turkey August 10, 2018. REUTERS/MURAD SEZER/FILE PHOTO

His departure was linked to Erdogan’s appointment of a new market-friendly central banker whom Albayrak had strongly opposed.

Naci Agbal, the new central bank governor, sharply raised the main interest rate at his first policy meeting last week, helping the lira halt its slide.

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Erdogan’s office said little about Albayrak’s departure, noting in a one-sentence statement that he “left the board of the sovereign wealth fund of Turkey after asking to take leave”.

He was appointed as its deputy head in 2018, the same year Erdogan became its official chief.

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#Newsworthy