PM Erdoğan says he won't back down from stance that led to row with Egypt
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan flashes the 'Rabaa' sign during a rally in Trabzon on Nov. 23. AA photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he will repeat the same remarks that Egypt claimed as justification for downgrading diplomatic ties with Turkey and to expel Ambassador Hüseyin Avni Botsalı.
“I have a stance that is known, they gave this as a reason. This is something that I always say and is on the record. I will continue to say it from now on as well. I will never respect those who come to power through military coups,” Erdoğan told reporters on Nov. 23 in Trabzon.
“We have never respected those who don’t respect the people’s sovereignty, but we have always respected those who respect the people’s will. The steps adopted against our ambassador have triggered similar steps from our side,” he added.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced the decision to downgrade ties with Ankara was undertaken following Erdoğan’s remarks prior his departure to Russia, showing sympathy with Morsi.
“I applaud Morsi’s conduct at the court. I respect him, but I have no respect for those who put him on trial,” Erdoğan said at Ankara’s Esenboğa airport referring to the trial of the toppled Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated figure.
Earlier, during a rally in Trabzon, Erdoğan had implicitly responded to Egypt’s decision to expel the Turkish ambassador by flashing the “Rabaa” gesture on stage.
Erdoğan has often used the gesture during his party rallys to show his support to the president Mohamed Morsi ousted after a military takeover on July 3.
The four-finger sign became the symbol of pro-Morsi supporters at the protests in Rabaa (which translates to “four” in Arabic) al-Adawiyah Square.
“Let’s reply in kind to Rabaa al-Adawiyah and call here the Rabaa al-İstasyon Square,” Erdoğan said at the end of his speech.
Without openly mentioning Egypt, Erdoğan said that in foreign policy countries could severe relations in a controlled way. “We will have good relations with the ones who act positively to us. We will be friends with those who want to be friend and open our doors. There can sometimes be quarrels but these can later be repaired,” Erdoğan said.
“We can carefully, and in a controlled manner severe our good relations with those who are bad. We can start new process when relations are bad with those who are good. This is diplomacy’s rule and the logic of foreign policy,” he added.
Erdoğan said that Turkey had upgraded its relations with almost every neighboring country during the ruling Justice and development Party (AKP) government. “With the exception of Syria, our relations with Iraq and Iran are in a satisfactory level and improving. Our relations with Russia and Ukraine are manifest,” Erdoğan said arguing that a great power should have a vision on foreign policy. “A great [power] is not such state who fears its own shadow but acts by establishing with courage peace and brotherhood and embraces the world,” Erdoğan said also with implicit references to criticisms against last week’s Diyarbakıor meeting with the Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.
“A state which fears its artist cannot be a great power. A state which does not protect the victims and who fears its own population, cannot be a great power,” he said.
During his speech Erdoğan has also defended the government’s plans on closing test prep schools and sasked support for the ongoing Kurdish peace process.