No Venezuelan officials in Turkey: Erdoğan
ISTANBUL – Agence France-Presse
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied on Feb. 26 that any high-ranking Venezuelan officials have fled to his country, as the South American nation slides further into economic and political turmoil.
Erdoğan, a firm supporter of Nicolas Maduro, was reacting to a claim by the Venezuelan president's challenger, opposition politician Juan Guaido, who declared himself acting president last month, claiming Maduro has lost legitimacy.
About 50 countries, including the United States, recognise Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.
"Nobody has fled Venezuela to take refuge in my country," Erdoğan said, in reply to a question during an interview with national broadcaster NTV. "It is not true."
Guaido, in a tweet on Feb. 23, made reference to "senior officials" who had "gone to Turkey".
"If he says such things it is because he does not know Turkey," Erdoğan insisted. "He has to learn a few things first. Being a statesman is not so easy."
Erdoğan again defended Maduro, who he insisted had been elected to the presidency, while Guaido had not.
Erdoğan and Maduro are old allies, and the Venezuelan president was the first world leader to express backing for the Turkish leader after an attempted coup d'etat in Turkey in 2016.