Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Turkish FM slams Erdogan rival over Russia meddling claims

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has criticized opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu for accusing Moscow of meddling in the presidential race, which will be decided in next Sunday's runoff.

Kilicdaroglu said ahead of the first round of voting that Russia was interfering in the electoral process but gave no proof or details to support his claim. The Kremlin denied the accusation.

“Mr. Kilicdaroglu has been threatening Russia. It is wrong to undermine our ties with a country like that,” Cavusoglu told the Haberturk news channel in an interview.

The minister stated he had asked Kilicdaroglu, who will challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the May 28 runoff, if he had any evidence of Russian meddling, to which he responded with “It was my impression.”

Cavusoglu added the aspiring president should “be more serious” and refrain from hurling groundless accusations at other countries based on his gut feeling.

The diplomat also denied that Russia’s decision to allow Turkey to delay gas payments until 2024 had anything to do with the elections. Cavusoglu stated Ankara was negotiating deferred gas payments with all suppliers after a surge in prices last year.

On Syria, Cavusoglu stressed that Ankara was negotiating refugee returns with the Syrian government. He estimated that a half million Syrians had returned from Turkey to so-called safe zones in their home country.

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