A file photo of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. PHOTO: AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, on Feb 5th, 2019,
ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the European Union of seeking to overthrow embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro in defiance of “democracy.”
“On one side you will say ‘democracy, democracy, democracy’ and ‘ballot box, ballot box, ballot box’ and later you will dare to topple the government by violence and ruse,” Erdogan told his ruling party lawmakers in parliament, referring to the European Union.
Major European powers including Britain, France, Germany and Spain on Monday recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president until new elections are held after Maduro rejected a European ultimatum to call fresh polls.
The United States welcomed the recognition, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging others to follow suit.
Erdogan, whose government survived a coup bid in July 2016, has given support to Maduro in the wake of the crisis and told him in a phone call to “stand tall.”
But Turkish backing for Maduro has drawn the ire of the United States, and a senior US official said last week that Washington was “disappointed” with Ankara’s move.
On Tuesday, Erdogan called what happened in Venezuela as an “international coup attempt to remove the country’s elected leader from power.”
He said: “Is Venezuela one of your states?”, in a veiled reference to the United States.
“How dare you tell an elected person to leave and deliver the head of state to the one who did not even run in the elections,” he added.
“Where is democracy? … Is it possible for us to accept that?”