President Erdoğan: I don’t care if they call me a dictator
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defied EU criticism over the arrests of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers and journalists, saying that Turkey is “no longer subject to orders.”
“I don’t care if they call me a dictator or whatever else. It goes in one ear, out the other,” Erdoğan said on Nov. 6 in Istanbul during a ceremony to receive an honorary doctorate.
“What matters is what my people call me,” he added.
The West should not hope to “bring Turkey into line” with such pressures as “newspapers, caricatures, calling us a dictator, and so on, expecting that we would take a step back. They should not expect this. We know these [tactics] very well,” Erdoğan said.
After “incidents experienced over the past three years,” Turkey has changed its point of view of events and has drawn a new path for itself, he said, adding that Ankara’s “criteria is now to do whatever it takes for the future of our country and nation.”
Erdoğan added that the West will “eventually understand that I have come to serve my people, not dominate over them.”
His latest angry remarks came after EU officials and governments criticized Ankara after nine lawmakers of the HDP, including its co-leaders, were arrested on Nov. 4 on charges of terrorism. The arrest of nine Cumhuriyet journalists on Nov. 5 added to the criticism.
However, the Turkish president said those arrested were involved in “terrorist activities,” and complained that EU did not give enough support in Turkey’s fight against terrorism.
“When did the Western world have a good dream about Turkey, ever? It never did. What can Turkey, which has been kept waiting at the door of the European Union for 53 years, expect from the West? Let’s not fool ourselves. We will take matters into our own hands,” he said.
Erdoğan also accused Europe of “aiding terrorism” by supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“Europe, as a whole, is aiding terrorism. Even though it has declared the PKK a terrorist organization, this is clear ... We see how the PKK can act so freely and comfortably in Europe,” he said, noting that he has “handed over 4,000 [National Intelligence Organization] MİT files to the German chancellor on suspected terrorists.”
“In a meeting we held in Istanbul about six months ago, I asked her if she remembered the 4,000 files. She said she did. I asked her what happened to those files. She said there were now 4,500. I asked her what will happen now. Late justice is not justice at all, and I told her they were delaying justice,” Erdoğan said.