‘I am here despite assassination threats,’ Erdoğan says in visit to Bosnia

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan wave during a pre-election rally in Sarajevo, on May 20, 2018. Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds today the only election rally outside Turkey ahead of the June 24 presidential and parliamentary election. Sarajevo was chosen for the rally after several European Union countries, including Germany, banned such rallies in the campaign for last year's referendum on a new system enhancing the powers of the Turkish presidency. / AFP PHOTO / OLIVER BUNIC

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said that information about possible assassination threats against him during his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina would not deter him from attending a convention in the country, Sputnik news reported.

Erdoğan made the statement during a press conference following his meeting with Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniak member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ on Saturday had warned of possible “assassination threats” against Erdoğan during his Sunday visit to Bosnia, tweeting, “We are aware that there are circles who are uncomfortable with such a great leader, a man with a cause. We are aware that they want to get rid of our president. These assassination threats are not new, they have always been there.”

“Information came to me from the National Intelligence Organization [MİT], but I’m still here. Such threats will not deter me,” Sputnik quoted the Turkish president as saying.

Erdoğan also noted at the press conference that Turkey has no secret agenda in Bosnia but rather only seeks its prosperity, unity and economic improvement.

The Turkish president spoke at the sixth assembly of the Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), which recently established a sister lobbying organization in Bosnia, the Union of European Balkan Democrats (UEBD), in Sarajevo on Sunday afternoon, where he is looking to win the votes of 10,000 Turks residing in Bosnia and surrounding countries in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.

Thousands, holding banners and pictures of Erdoğan attended the convention, which was held in Sarajevo’s largest sports venue.

Izetbegovic greeted Erdoğan at the gathering, saying that the West did not like him because “he is a powerful Muslim leader that we have not had for a long time,” according to an AFP report.

During his speech Erdoğan urged Turks to unite for the presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24 and asked for their support, stating: “Let’s give a strong response that will be heard by Germany, France and Belgium. Are you ready to show the power of European Turks to the world?”

“Today, if some European countries exhibit demeaning behavior towards me and our land, the reason is the disarray of Turks in those countries,” Erdoğan argued.

The Turkish lobbying organizations are said to be close to Erdoğan. The UETD’s headquarters is in Cologne, home to one of the biggest Turkish communities in Germany. It has branches in other European cities with significant Turkish populations.

Zafer Sirakaya, president of the UETD, earlier said his organization is an NGO and has no direct links to Erdoğan or his party but concedes that there is a “bond of love” between the UETD and the Turkish president.

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