Saturday, June 22, 2024

Erdogan criticizes Biden for calling him “dictator”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dodged giving a direct response when pressed by CNN on whether he genuinely believed Washington was trying to unseat him. Instead, he criticized US President Joe Biden for viewing him as a “dictator".

Erdogan, who is currently vying for another presidential term in a runoff election, accused the US leader of plotting his demise last week.

“Biden gave the order to topple Erdogan, I know this. All my people know this,” he told a rally in Istanbul ahead of voting day.

The Turkish leader seemed to be referring to statements made by Biden in January 2020, when he said Washington should encourage Erdogan’s opponents to defeat him at elections instead of ousting him in a coup. Ankara later condemned those comments as “interventionist.”

In this new interview with CNN, however, Erdogan left a direct question about the issue unanswered. Instead, he insisted he was following democratic procedures during the elections.

“How could someone, who is going into a runoff election instead of [winning] the election in the first round be a dictator? That is the reality,” he stated.

If re-elected, he vowed to still cooperate with Biden, or anyone else who assumed control of the White House, but he also criticized the US and its allies for their attitude towards Russia. The West was not using a “balanced approach” in its relations with Russia, he advised, adding that a balanced approach is exactly what is needed when dealing with this type of country. He then confirmed that Turkey had a “special relationship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which helped extend the Black Sea grain deal.

He also insisted that Turkey’s independent foreign policy particularly relies on its close ties to Moscow, saying, “Russia and Turkey need each other in every field possible.”

Erdogan is currently seeking his third consecutive term as president. He topped the polls in the first round of the presidential elections held last weekend but still fell short of gaining the absolute majority of votes needed to win outright in the first round. He is now to face off against opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in a runoff vote scheduled for May 28.

Kilicdaroglu vowed to mend Ankara’s ties with NATO and restart membership talks with the EU. Erdogan accused him of seeking to “detach” Turkey from Russia.

Erdogan has also dismissed opposition calls for a comprehensive deportation of refugees and has said that he will instead “encourage” around a million refugees to return to Syria.

Erdogan, who backed armed opposition groups in Syria’s war, stated that he is also keen to turn the page, through President Bashar Assad’s main backer, Putin.

“(Through) my friendship with President Putin, we thought we could open a door, specifically in our fight against terrorism in the northern part of Syria, which requires close cooperation and solidarity,” he stressed, referring to Kurdish militants in northeast Syria.

“If we can do that, I said I see no obstacle that would remain in the way of our reconciliation,” he added, while promising to maintain Turkey’s presence in northern Syria despite Assad preconditioning talks on Ankara’s withdrawal from the territory.

“We have more than 900 kilometres of border and there is a constant terror threat from those borders on our country,” he continued, stating, “The only reason we have a military presence on the border is to fight against terrorism. That’s the sole reason.”

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