Turkey elections: Erdogan says he wants to ‘teach the US a lesson’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that his supporters should teach the United States a lesson in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
Erdogan has uncharacteristically avoided criticizing the West and the United States so far in this election campaign, but he made an exception during a rally in Istanbul’s Bagcilar district, where he officially opened a series of public buildings and investments. The elections will take place on 14 May.
Turkey’s president cited US Ambassador Jeff Flake’s visit to joint opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu last week as a reason for his anger at the US.
“We need to teach America a lesson in these elections,” he said. “Joe Biden speaks from there, what is ambassador Biden doing here? He goes to visit Mr. Kemal. It’s a shame, give your head some work. You are the ambassador. Your mediator here is the president.”
Erdogan was addressing a small gathering of people at a local branch of Turkey’s ultra-nationalist Hearths Idealist group, commonly known as the Gray Wolves.
Referring to Blake, Erdogan said: “How are you going to ask the president for an appointment from now on?”
“Our doors are now closed to him. You can not see [me] no more. Why? You will know your limit. You will know your duty as an ambassador. You will learn how an ambassador works,” he said.
Relations between the United States and Turkey, allies and strategic partners on paper, have not been easy since 2014, when Washington decided to form an alliance against the Islamic State group with Kurdish armed groups in Syria, which Ankara considers terrorists.
Since then, there have been two more US administrations in power in Washington, but tensions and occasional shouting matches have continued over a range of issues from Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems to Ankara’s decision to offer NATO Sweden’s keep up.
Last month, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu accused Flake of trying to overthrow the government by creating “confrontation” and told him to “get his dirty hands off Turkey”.
Erdogan plans to host an iftar dinner as part of the holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday. It is unclear whether he would invite Flake.