EuropeTop StoriesWorld

Erdogan’s health! Turkey probes tweets

ROME: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) speaks with US President Joe Biden (2nd left) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (2nd right) during the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome on October 30, 2021. – AFP

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s cyber police yesterday launched a legal probe into “baseless” social media posts speculating about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s health. In a statement, the police said they were investigating 30 people who used or retweeted the hashtag #olmus (#heisdead), which became a top trending topic of Turkish Twitter.

Underscoring the government’s sensitivity about the posts, Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun tweeted a short clip yesterday showing the Turkish leader walking out of his official car along a turquoise carpet. “Trust to friends, fear to enemies,” Altun wrote. Rumors about the health of Erdogan, 67, have been swirling for years, with one of his doctors going on record in 2011 to deny that the Turkish leader had cancer.

In 2011, Erdogan, then prime minister, underwent laparoscopic gastrointestinal surgery, and has been walking more gingerly ever since. Erdogan was last seen in public on Sunday, when he met US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome. He then cancelled his planned attendance at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow citing a dispute over the security protocol. The latest wave of speculation appears to have been prompted by Erdogan’s failure to attend a ceremony of his ruling party, which yesterday celebrated the 19th anniversary of its rise to power.

Erdogan skips Glasgow
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday he had cancelled his planned attendance at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow because of a dispute over the security protocol. Erdogan had been due to travel to Scotland after holding a crunch meeting with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

But he told reporters on board his flight back to Turkey that the Glasgow event organizers had failed to address his delegation’s security concerns. “When our demands were not met, we gave up on going to Glasgow,” the Anadolu state news agency quoted Erdogan as saying. “This was not only about our own security, but also about the reputation of our country.” A report by the Middle East Eye website cites Turkish sources as saying that organizers had put a limit on the size of Erdogan’s travelling delegation.

COP26 organizers issued no immediate comment. Turkey’s parliament this year finally ratified the Paris climate agreement and Erdogan has been stressing his concern for environmental issues ahead of a general election due within the next two years. His failure to attend comes with tensions between Turkey and its main Western allies fraying on multiple fronts. The Biden meeting almost fell through because Erdogan last month threatened to expel 10 Western ambassadors over their joint statement in support of a jailed civil society leader.

Erdogan dropped his threat after the embassies issued public statements reaffirming their commitment not to meddle in Turkey’s domestic affairs. A senior US administration official said Biden “made clear his desire (to Erdogan) to have constructive relations with Turkey and to find an effective way to manage our disagreements”. Relations have been further complicated by Turkey’s purchase of a Russian air defense system and US backing for a Kurdish militia in Syria that Ankara views as a terror threat.

The Russian purchase has complicated military cooperation between the two key members of the NATO defense alliance. Biden told Erdogan in Rome that his request for a large new shipment of F-16 fighter jets could meet resistance in Congress because of concerns about Turkish human rights. But Erdogan told reporters on Monday that he felt reassured after discussing the F-16s order with Biden. “We talked about the F-16 deliveries. I did not feel like they had a negative attitude about it,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. – AFP

Back to top button