Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked crowds to “give a lesson” to Turkey’s European and US partners in the coming presidential elections.
Turks will go to the polls on June 24 to elect a new president amid worsening relations between Turkey and its traditional allies in Washington and Europe.
“The West is looking for the June 24 elections. What are they waiting for? They are waiting to see how Erdogan will fall down. Are you ready to give a lesson to the West?” Erdogan said, addressing hundreds of thousands of supporters on Yenikapi Square in Istanbul on Sunday.
“You have always given that lesson up to this day. I believe in you. God willing, you will give them another lesson,” he added.
Ankara’s relations with its US allies and European partners has taken a turn for the worse amid rows over the possible non-delivery of F-35s to Turkey, the imprisonment of a Turkish banker in the US for evading sanctions against Iran, and the US refusal to hand over Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in the United States and whom Erdogan has previously charged with responsibility for the failed 2016 coup attempt.
Turkey’s relations with the EU have also been strained amid Brussels’ resistance to Turkey’s bid to join the bloc.
Next week, Turks will go to the polls in snap presidential and general elections which observers say will ensure the country’s transition to a presidential republic. The country has faced a prolonged state of emergency and has taken measures to bolster presidential powers following the failed July 2016 coup, a move criticized by the country’s opposition parties and a number of Western leaders.
Candidates include incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Muharrem Ince from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Selahattin Demirtas from the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Meral Aksener from the Iyi Party, Dogu Perincek from VATAN, and Temel Karamollaoglu from the Felicity Party (SP).