Erdoğan to talk to Obama, Merkel over spying crisis

Erdoğan to talk to Obama, Merkel over spying crisis

Erdoğan to talk to Obama, Merkel over spying crisis

Erdoğan has left Baku for Wales on Sept. 3. AA Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he will talk to U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about an ongoing “spying feud” on the sidelines of an upcoming NATO summit.

The summit, which will take place in Cardiff on Sept. 4-5, will be Erdoğan’s first international appearance since taking office as president.

Erdoğan’s meeting with Obama, which is scheduled for Sept. 5, will be the first time the two leaders have met face-to-face since their last meeting on May 16, 2013. In August this year, the leaders held a phone conversation when Obama called Erdoğan to congratulate him on his Aug. 10 presidential election victory.

“I will also talk to Merkel at the NATO [summit],” Erdoğan said, according to media outlets whose representatives accompanied the president on a visit to northern Cyprus. However, he did not provide specific details on the timing of his encounter with Merkel.

Turkey had summoned the U.S. embassy’s chargé d’affaires to the Foreign Ministry to seek an explanation over the claims that the National Security Agency (NSA), along with the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), have been eavesdropping on Turkish leaders for many years. The claims were reported by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, which in the past reported that Germany’s intelligence agency was also spying on Turkey.

Turkey, the United States, the U.K. and Germany are all NATO allies and have mechanisms for intelligence sharing, but the claims indicate that this has not stopped the countries from spying on their putative ally.

The Turkish reaction to the claims has been muted, though the Foreign Ministry has officially asked the U.S. to stop its eavesdropping activities in the event that the event is verified.

Situation in the Middle East

Erdoğan, meanwhile, was in Azerbaijan yesterday for his second visit abroad as president. He arrived in Wales from Azerbaijan late yesterday to attend the NATO summit where he is expected to hold bilateral visits with other leaders in addition to Obama and Merkel.

Turkey’s priorities at the summit are expected to center around the growing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the humanitarian crisis in both Iraq and Syria. Although the issue is not the focal point of the summit, it is expected that NATO leaders will address the question, with Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussesn having already pledged full support to Turkey if the country is directly threatened by the jihadist group.

During the summit, Erdoğan is also expected call on world leaders to stop the current Israeli blockade on Gaza. He is also expected to raise the issue of NATO’s pledges toward Azerbaijan.   

The NATO summit will primarily focus on the ongoing crisis between the alliance and Russia over the latter’s offensive against Ukraine, as well as its annexation of Crimea. NATO is planning to take important measures to inform Russia that the organization will not remain silent against Russia’s moves in the Eurasian region.