Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised his country’s relations with Russia despite mounting pressure on Ankara to help strengthen Western sanctions against Moscow.
In an exclusive interview with CNN before the run-off of the Turkish presidential elections, Erdogan said that “the West does not lead a very balanced approach,” describing his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “special.”
He added that the West “needs a balanced approach towards a country like Russia,” adding: “We are not bound by Western sanctions. We are a strong country and we have a positive relationship with Russia.”
Since Russia launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Erdogan has emerged as a mediator, adopting a decisive balance between the two sides widely known as “pro-Ukrainian neutrality”.
Erdogan or Kilicdaroglu… Who will win the presidency of Türkiye?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish opposition are preparing for a second round of elections, scheduled for May 28, which will result in the country’s president for the next 5 years.
The Turkish president helped broker a major agreement known as the Black Sea Grain Corridor Initiative that helped transport tons of Ukrainian wheat besieged by the Russian invasion to avert a global hunger crisis. On Wednesday, the agreement was extended for another two months, one day before it expires.
“This was made possible because of our special relationship with President Putin,” Erdogan told CNN, referring to the grain deal.
Turkey is awaiting, for the first time in its history, a second round of the presidential elections, following a first round that witnessed intense competition, with voters deciding on May 28 between Erdogan and his main rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.
In the first round, which was held in the middle of this month, the final result of the counting gave 49.5 votes to Erdogan, who has been in power for twenty years, compared to 45 percent for his opponent, the Social Democratic Oglu.
Erdogan’s rival seeks to “kill two birds with one stone”.. Will he win the bet?
Nine days before the second round of the Turkish presidential elections and after Sinan Ogan’s “bargaining”, it seems remarkable that the candidate of the opposition “Nation’s Alliance”, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has adopted a new tactic related to his campaign, in an effort to win national votes that observers believe will be a “grabbing egg”, On the twenty-eighth of May.
Erdogan and his rival Kilicdaroglu disagree on a number of foreign policy issues, including diplomacy with the West and Russia.-
Kilicdaroglu has vowed to mend years of strained diplomacy with the West, saying he seeks to reset Ankara’s relationship with Moscow to be “state-driven”.-
The issue of the 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey is hot in these elections as well, as Kilicdaroglu promised to deport Syrian refugees from Turkey after the third-place candidate in the race, Sinan Ogan, said he would support the candidate who would adopt a stricter refugee policy.
Kilicdaroglu has taken a hard line on refugees in his campaign videos. Meanwhile, Erdogan told CNN that he would not bow to Erdogan’s wishes.
The outcome of the second round will depend in part on Sinan Ogan, who is an ultra-nationalist after winning about 5.2 percent of the votes in the first round, but he has not yet announced whether he will support one of the candidates.
“I am not a person who likes to negotiate in this way. The people will be the kingmakers,” Erdogan said in response to speculation about Ogan emerging as the kingmaker in the run-off.
Erdogan has rejected opposition calls for a mass deportation of refugees, saying he is instead “encouraging” some one million refugees to return to Syria.
He said Turkey was building infrastructure and homes in the parts of war-torn Syria controlled by Ankara, with the aim of facilitating the repatriation of refugees.
If he wins, Erdogan’s rival pledges to “return all refugees”
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the rival of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the presidential elections, intensified his tone regarding migrants, Thursday, and pledged to return them all to their country once he wins the run-off, on May 28.
Erdogan, who supported armed Islamic opposition groups in the Syrian civil war, added that he was also keen to turn the page on differences with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, through his relations with Putin.
He said that through “my friendship with President Putin, we believed that we could open the door, specifically in our battle against terrorism in the northern part of Syria, which requires close cooperation and solidarity,” referring to the Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria.
He continued, “If we can do that, I said that I do not see any obstacle that will remain in the path of reconciliation between us,” while pledging to maintain the Turkish presence in northern Syria despite Assad’s prior talks regarding Ankara’s withdrawal from the region.
“We have more than 900 kilometers of border and there is a constant terrorist threat from that border on our country. The only reason for our military presence on the border is to fight terrorism,” Erdogan said.