Erdoğan basks in political support at Istanbul energy conference
ISTANBUL — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used his keynote speech at an international energy conference Monday to frame his country as a source of stability and cooperation in the face of terrorism in the region.
Erdoğan capped off a series of presidential addresses on the first day of the World Energy Congress by some of his biggest political and energy allies — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı, whose government is not recognized anywhere except in Turkey.
Stressing that cooperation on energy supply can foster peace, Erdoğan pointed to the latest upheaval in Turkey — the attempted military coup against his government on July 15. He made a point of blaming its alleged mastermind, Fethullah Gülen, an exiled cleric who lives in Pennsylvania.
“By coming to Istanbul you are exhibiting solidarity with our nation, with our democracy, with our country,” Erdoğan told the audience. “I hope this noble stance you have exhibited will be an example, will be a model, for countries that are not openly supporting Turkey, that are still preaching to us about human rights and democracy under the pretext of these coup organizers.”
Turkey has asked the U.S. to extradite Gülen.
Erdoğan received significant support from his fellow heads of state.
Despite regaining control after the attempted coup, the country remains at risk of attacks, with threats from ISIL, also known as Islamic State or Daesh, and Kurdish groups PKK and YPG, he added. “One of the reasons Turkey is interested in Syria and Iraq is the fact that Daesh, the PKK and YPG are operating in these countries and they are targeting Turkey from these places.”
Reconfirming the warmer ties between Russia and Turkey, Putin congratulated Turkey for pulling off the World Energy Congress, which is held every three years in a different country, and for “keeping the situation under control.”
Aliyev was probably the most overt in his support, repeatedly referring to Azerbaijan’s “brotherly Turkey” and starting his speech by commending his Turkish counterpart’s “heroism” and adding: “In Azerbaijan, we’re proud of you.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the name of the Venezuelan president was Vincent Maduro. It is, in fact, Nicolás Maduro.