WASHINGTON — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lauded President Trump’s “legendary triumph” at the White House today, while just a couple hours later Erdoğan’s bodyguards bloodied Kurdish protesters outside the Turkish Embassy.
Erdoğan and Trump met behind closed doors before giving joint remarks in the Roosevelt Room, followed by a working lunch.
Trump said he supports Turkey against “terror groups like ISIS and the PKK, and ensure they have no safe quarter, the terror groups.”
“President Erdoğan and I are also discussing the need to reinvigorate our trade and commercial ties. These are areas where we can build our relationship that will benefit both of our countries. Military equipment was ordered by Turkey and the president, and we’ve made sure that it gets there quickly,” he added, noting it was “a great honor” for the Turkish leader to visit.
Erdoğan called Trump “my dear friend” and congratulated Trump “for the legendary triumph that he has garnered in the aftermath of the elections.”
“The relations between Turkey and the United States have been erected upon common democratic values and common interests. Keeping our outstanding relations stronger than ever will be very important, not only for our common interests, but also stability of the globe and peace around the world,” the leader of Turkey’s Islamist AKP party, who recently claimed victory in a referendum expanding his powers, said.
Erdoğan said he believed his visit “will mark a historical turn of tide.”
“We seem to agree on expanding our relations in the field of economy, trade, reciprocal investments, energy and defense industry,” he said. “It is going to be very important for us to forge a close solidarity and cooperation in the field of fighting terrorism, primarily with Daesh, and all the other terrorist organizations in the region.”
Elaborating upon his definition of terrorist groups, Erdoğan named the PYD, which is Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party, and the YPG, the People’s Protection Units Kurdish militia fighting ISIS within the U.S.-backed multisectarian, multiethnic Syrian Democratic Forces.
“Taking YPG and PYD into consideration in the region will never be accepted and it is going to be against a global agreement that we have reached. And we should never allow those groups to manipulate the religious structure and the ethnic structure of the region, making terrorism as a pretext or an excuse,” Erdoğan argued.
Erdoğan also said he was “very frankly communicating our expectations” regarding the extradition of Poconos cleric Fethullah Gülen, a political opponent in exile whom he accuses of orchestrating last summer’s failed coup.
“Of course, President Trump’s recent election victory has led to the awakening of a new set of aspirations and expectations and hopes in our region. And we know that by the help of the new U.S. administration, these hopes will not be lost in vain,” he said. “…And we know that in terms of keeping up with the principled and committed fight against the terrorist organizations all around the world, we will not repeat the mistakes of the past and we will continue down this path together.” Erdoğan also invited the Trump family to Turkey.
Outside the White House, pro-Erdoğan protesters waved Turkish flags and protesters against Erdoğan included Armenians, Yazidis and Kurds, along with Christians demanding the release of Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina pastor and longtime resident of Turkey who was caught up in Erdoğan’s post-coup mass incarcerations and has been detained since October. The White House said in a readout of the meeting that Trump “raised the incarceration” of Brunson “and asked that the Turkish government expeditiously return him to the United States.”
Outside the Turkish Embassy later in the afternoon, Erdoğan’s security detail went after a protester carrying a PYD flag. D.C. Fire said nine were injured, two seriously hurt, in the melee. Police, who were on scene when the fighting broke out, made two arrests.
Video from Voice of America Turkish:
— Samira Ghaderi (@Samira_Ghaderi) May 17, 2017
When Erdoğan was in D.C. in March 2016 for the Nuclear Security Summit, his security staff roughed up journalists and think-tank staff outside his address at the Brookings Institution.