Turkey’s President Erdoğan In China For A State Visit
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has arrived in Beijing for a state visit. He hopes to improve business and defense ties while Turkish lawmakers in Ankara prepare to debate the fight against IS and the Kurdish PKK.
Erdoğan is being accompanied by over 100 business representatives, hoping to further strengthen ties with economic powerhouse China, which has become Turkey’s third-largest trading partner after Germany and Russia, with $28.6 billion (25.9 billion euros) in trade volume last year.
The Turkish President is also expected to discuss plans to buy China’s HQ-9 missile defense system, which has alarmed Turkey’s NATO allies, who fear the system may not be compatible with western systems.
They are also concerned about possible leaks of military secrets to China. But, on Tuesday, Erdoğan told reporters that he was open to an improved bid from the Chinese.
Erdoğan’s visit comes as lawmakers in the Turkish capital Ankara are due to discuss the security situation in Turkey. At an extraordinary meeting called by Turkey on Tuesday, NATO expressed support for Turkey’s fight against terrorists from Islamic State and the banned Kurdish PKK party, but said Turley should continue efforts to continue its peace process with the Kurdish minority.
“All allies expressed their strong support for Turkey and we all stand together in solidarity with Turkey. We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said after the meeting of the alliance’s ambassadors in Brussels.
On Tuesday, Erdoğan declared it was “impossible” to continue a peace process with Kurdish militants from the PKK. In 2012, Turkey launched peace negotiations with the group’s jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan and agreed a truce.
Erdoğan’s announcement came after Turkish jets hit Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey after they had fired on security forces, the army said.
It is part of Turkey’s two-pronged military offensive against both IS militants and Kurdish fighters. Although previously seen as reluctant to tackle IS elements in Turkey, the campaign was launched last week after a suicide bombing blamed on IS militants in the largely Kurdish border town of Suruc killed 32 people.
Turkey has been under fire, though, for targeting Kurds alongside IS militants, as Syrian Kurdish fighters have been effective in containing IS elements in northern and northeastern Syria, near the border with Turkey.
German Green lawmaker Cem Özdemir, who has Turkish roots, has fiercely criticized Erdoğan, saying in an interview with a German newspaper that Turkey risks becoming a “mini Pakistan with an authoritarian leader right on the border to Europe.”
“I see a country is being thrust into chaos by its leaders without even being in a precarious situation,” he told “Passauer Neue Presse.” Özdemir even went so far as to suggest that Erdogan’s efforts against IS was merely “symbolic.”
“We’re being deceived here in the West. There are hardly any IS targets being attacked and there have been very few arrests of IS militants in Turkey,” he said. Ankara has in the past been accused of not doing enough to combat IS, with the US spending much of this year urging Erdoğan to allow it to use the strategic Incirlik Air Base.