President-elect Donald Trump has a defender in Islamist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who predicted that Trump’s campaign-trail rhetoric about Muslims is simply a “mistake” that “will be corrected.”
Erdoğan spoke today at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference in Istanbul, railing against the European Union for a vote on suspending ascension talks with Turkey over the country’s post-coup purge.
Since the July coup attempt, according to Turkey Purge, which is collecting reports of human-rights violations, Erdoğan’s government has fired 115,094 government employees, detained 78,214 people, arrested 37,011 more, shut down 2,099 schools, fired 6,377 academics, dismissed 3,843 judges and prosecutors, closed 195 media outlets and arrested 145 journalists. German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued engagement with Turkey should continue while addressing the “alarming things going on there.”
“We have made clear time and time again that we take care of European values more than many EU countries, but we could not see concrete support from Western friends … none of the promises were kept,” Erdoğan said, stressing that an EU vote to suspend their membership quest “has no value in our eyes.” He also accused the EU of harboring militant Kurds.
The Turkish leader also said the EU, which has taken a cautious “wait and see” approach to the U.S. presidential election, hasn’t been nice enough to Trump. EU lawmakers voted Tuesday to increase defense spending on fears that Trump will decrease protection for NATO allies.
“There was an election in the U.S. The plan failed. The plan was different [but] Trump won the election … After the vote, people took to the streets in various countries across Europe and started calling him a dictator,” Erdoğan said, according to Hurriyet. “Aren’t you democrats? Isn’t democracy about the ballot box? Isn’t it about respecting the result? Why are you not respecting the result of the ballot box?”
“This is the result that came out of the ballot box. Trump came out. Respect it,” he added.
Erdoğan brushed off Trump’s rhetoric regarding Islam, saying “we are used to such things in politics.”
“Today one speaks this way, then this mistake is corrected,” he said. “We should not be deceived here.”
Trump’s pick for national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Hill on Election Day supporting Erdoğan’s stance on the post-coup purge. A company founded by the chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council hired Flynn Intel Group in September. Before that link, Flynn had cheered the coup attempt and criticized the increasingly Islamist authoritarian government of Erdoğan.