Erdoğan defies Brussels mayor: Let him stop me participating in NATO summit

Turkey's autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday slammed Yvan Mayeur, mayor of Brussels, for his remarks suggesting that he would not allow a small rally in support of Erdoğan in his city, defying him and Belgian authorities not to let himself participate in a NATO summit in Brussels if they can.

Mayeur’s remarks came on Wednesday after media reports suggesting that Erdoğan will arrive in Brussels for the NATO summit 12-14 hours earlier than expected. He said the organization of a small celebration in Brussels for Erdoğan is out of the question.

“I go there to visit neither the Brussels Municipality nor the Belgian authorities. I go there for the NATO summit. If he is powerful enough to say ‘I won’t allow Erdoğan to participate in the NATO summit,’ or if Belgian authorities are powerful enough to say that, let them do,” Erdoğan said at Ankara Esenboğa Airport before leaving for an official visit to China.

“Mayor of Brussels is not a NATO member. He is not in position to talk on behalf of NATO. It is better he does his own work and think about how to clean streets of Brussels,” Erdoğan added.


Erdoğan also said on Friday that he would like to believe that all information regarding a US decision to provide arms to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are gossip.

“As I said, I do not take the statements on written or broadcast media up to now serious. If you ask why? Because the US is still in a transition process. Hence we should be more careful and sensitive,” Erdoğan said at Ankara Esenboğa Airport before leaving for an official visit to China, his first stop before moving to Washington to meet with Trump next week.

Expressing his uneasiness with US and Russian moves to support YPG in Syria, Erdoğan said, “We can come and go immediately in the night. If we do not do this, the threat against us will continue. There is not a threat for either the US or Russia in this region. Since the threat is against us, this is none of others’ business. If the US wants do a favor, we are together in NATO. The US should take steps with us. I told the same thing to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. I do not think it is appropriate for Russia to be with terrorist organizations.”

“I want to see that all information up to now are part of gossip. That is the reason why this visit is important,” Erdoğan added.


Meanwhile, his chief adviser and columnist İlnur Çevik has said the US should be thankful for Erdoğan’s goodwill and patience in the wake of a recent US decision to provide arms to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The US move has heightened tensions between the NATO allies days before the Turkish leader heads to Washington for a meeting with US President Donald Trump. Turkey sees the YPG an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984.

In his article published in the Yeni Birlik daily on Friday, Çevik wrote that although Ankara has been very much disturbed about the US decision to provide arms to YPG, Erdoğan said he hopes Trump will give up from this decision, meaning that he will try to convince the US President to give up from this mistake during his US visit.

“Our president approaches the issue with goodwill and patience. But the Americans should read this goodwill and patience well. About the Kurdish issue, our president demonstrated an outstanding goodwill and patience, he did more than what he could. The PKK did not read this well. By abusing the settlement process [which was launched several years ago between the government and the PKK to resolve the Kurdish issue but failed], it made preparations for a rebellion… Then, our president, who ran out of patience, gave a harsh slap on them and he continues to do so. Those who tested the patience of our president have always lost and they continue to lose. This applies to the US as well,” wrote Çelik.

Turkey, which has sent troops to northern Syria in an effort to curtail Kurdish expansion along its borders, has for months tried to lobby Washington to cut off ties with the Kurds and work instead with Turkish-backed opposition fighters in the fight to recapture ISIL’s de facto capital of Raqqa. (SCF with May 12, 2017

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