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World leaders congratulate Erdoğan on his victory, mention no concern about Turkey’s autocratic turn

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Leaders from around the world have rushed to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his Sunday night election victory, which extended his two-decade rule to 2028, but failed to mention any concerns about Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism under his administration.

In a runoff election held on Sunday, Erdoğan received 52.1 percent of the nationwide vote, while his main rival, opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, got 47.8 percent, according to the preliminary results. Yet another five years under Erdoğan, who is accused of establishing one-man rule and silencing dissent, has greatly disappointed his opponents. But world leaders made no mention of these concerns or called on Erdoğan to expand freedoms in the country.

US President Joe Biden, who waited for three full months after his inauguration to place his first call to Erdoğan in 2021, said he hoped to work with Erdoğan on “shared global challenges.”

“I look forward to continuing to work together as NATO allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges,” Biden tweeted, making no mention of recent tensions in the bilateral relationship.

Biden attracted an angry response from Erdoğan and his government when he in an interview with The New York Times in late 2019, as the then-US Democratic presidential candidate, described the Turkish president as an “autocrat,” criticized his policy towards the Kurds and advocated supporting the Turkish opposition.

But he did not raise any of such concerns after assuming office nor in his congratulatory message to Erdoğan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has collaborated closely with Erdoğan on key international issues despite some disagreements, told Turkey’s leader his win was “the logical result of your dedicated work.”

“Your victory in these elections is the logical result of your dedicated work as head of the Turkish Republic, a clear evidence of the Turkish people’s support for your efforts to strengthen state sovereignty and pursue an independent foreign policy,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin website.

The Kremlin said in a separate statement on Monday that Russia was eyeing “very ambitious goals” in its ties with Erdoğan.

“When it comes to the implementation of joint Russian-Turkish projects there is already a fairly high dynamic. Of course, we expect that the dynamic will continue, because the goals are really very ambitious,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

NATO member Turkey opposes Western sanctions on Russia due to its war on Ukraine and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It also condemned Russia’s invasion and has sold combat drones to Ukraine as part of its diplomatic balancing act.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also welcomed the win for Erdoğan, who since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has positioned himself as a mediator in the conflict.

“We count on the further strengthening of the strategic partnership for the good of our countries, as well as the strengthening of cooperation for the security and stability of Europe,” Zelensky said on Twitter.

EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel said the bloc sought to strengthen ties.

They tweeted that they look forward to continue building the EU-Turkey relationship.

Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, who was jailed in Turkey for one year on bogus terrorism charges, associated the willingness of the EU leaders to work with Erdoğan with a refugee deal.

According to a migrant deal signed in March 2016, Turkey will keep asylum seekers from reaching the EU or, if they do, the EU will be able send them back to Turkey. In exchange, Turkey will receive 6 billion euros to improve the humanitarian situation faced by refugees in the country.

Erdoğan’s rival Kılıçdaroğlu vowed to repeal the migrant deal during his campaign and send around 4 million refugees in Turkey back to their homeland, while Erdoğan made no such promise.

Turkey’s relations with the EU date back to 1963. The country was named a candidate in 1999, and negotiations for full membership started in 2005. The EU has suspended talks with Turkey due to the EU’s unhappiness with what the union has described as a decline of democratic norms in the country.

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of NATO, of which Turkey is a member, also sent congratulations.

“I look forward to continuing our work together and preparing for the NATO Summit in July,” he tweeted.

UN chief Antonio Guterres also congratulated Erdoğan on his re-election, the secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“He looks forward to further strengthening the cooperation between Turkiye and the United Nations,” Dujarric added.


Kati Piri, a Dutch politician, condemned her country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, for his congratulatory message in which he referred to Erdoğan as a friend and wished him success.

“Well. Wishing an autocrat ‘good luck’ and calling him a ‘friend’ because you need it to ‘limit the influx’ of asylum seekers. 🤢 F*** all the political prisoners, the Turkish youth who want to live in a democracy, the minorities who are oppressed,” she tweeted.


Beijing also offered congratulations.

“We support Turkey in taking a development path that suits its national conditions, and hope that Turkey will continue to make new achievements in its development under the leadership of President Erdoğan,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning.

Beijing, “attaches great importance to its relations with Turkey.”

French leader Emmanuel Macron said the two nations had “immense challenges” to work on together.

Writing on Twitter, Macron said these included the “return of peace to Europe.”

“With President Erdoğan, who I congratulate, we will continue to move forward,” he said.

Steven A. Cook, a prominent Turkey expert at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), said he could not help but think about the people unjustly jailed in Turkey while Erdoğan is receiving messages of congratulation from around the world.

Thousands of people have been jailed in Turkey on bogus terrorism or coup charges following a failed coup in July 2016. They include Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and prominent businessman Osman Kavala, who are behind bars despite European Court of Human Rights decisions calling for their immediate release. Erdoğan said during his campaign that Demirtaş, an outspoken critic, will not be released as long as he is in power.

Interim Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Sarmas wished “peace and prosperity to the Turkish people.”

Former PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had difficult ties with Ankara and hopes to be returned to office in elections on June 25, said he wanted to telephone Erdoğan to “express my wish that the improvement in relations after the earthquakes carries on.”

But he added in a television interview with the private channel Mega, “I have no illusions about the fact that a country cannot easily change policy.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the countries as “close partners and allies” whose “people and economies are deeply intertwined.”

“Congratulations to President Erdoğan — together we want to advance our common agenda with a fresh impetus,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “I am confident that our bilateral ties and cooperation on global issues will continue to grow in the coming times.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Erdoğan was “a pillar of strength for the oppressed Muslims & a fervent voice for their inalienable rights.

“His presidential victory & that of AKP in parliamentary elections is significant in so many ways, reflecting the trust & confidence of the Turkish people in his dynamic leadership,” he tweeted.

Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed Prime Minister Al-Haj Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund said he was praying “to the Almighty Allah to grant Turkiye, that has a special regional and global status, further strength, stability and service of religion.”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the UAE looked “forward to working together to further enhance the strategic partnership between our two countries.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Pretoria anticipated working with Turkey under Erdoğan “to consolidate existing strong relations at the bilateral and multilateral levels.”

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