Revitalized Erdogan seeks to bask in G20 glory
ANTALYA, Turkey: Boosted by an election victory, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to use the G20 summit to remind the world of his status as a global leader and consolidate his domestic popularity. Commentators began writing Erdogan’s political obituary when his Islamic-rooted ruling party lost its outright majority in June elections for the first time since it swept to power over a decade ago. But the combative Erdogan’s gamble on calling snap elections for Nov 1 paid off handsomely, with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that he co-founded regaining its majority.
Just two weeks after that triumph, Erdogan will roll out the red carpet in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya on Sunday for leaders of the world’s top 20 economies including US President Barack Obama, Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia. The timing of the summit just after the elections is the perfect chance for Erdogan to show he is a key global player, in particular in dealing with the conflict in neighbouring Syria and the ensuing influx of 2.2 million refugees onto Turkish territory. It also allows him to play the role of genial host and dampen criticism that his rule is creeping towards authoritarianism after raids on critical media and arrests of opponents. “This G20 summit gives Erdogan the opportunity to reaffirm Turkey as an essential partner on the global scene,” said Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels. “He will for sure also take advantage of it personally to present himself as a world leader, despite all the criticism of his more and more authoritarian rule,” he told AFP.
‘Overlook Rights Record’ Turkey has in recent years felt aggrieved and even betrayed by the West over Syria, complaining it has received no help in hosting the refugees or in its aim to topple President Bashar Al-Assad. Erdogan, notoriously hot-tempered in private, has taken such disappointments as a personal slight and will be expecting Turkey’s position to be taken fully into account at its G20. Erdogan will look for promises that the West is still committed to ousting Assad, despite Russia’s air campaign to bolster his regime. — AFP
ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands before a meeting yesterday.