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19 Jan, 2023 23:46

Ankara slams US ‘colonial governor’ for election meddling

President Erdogan’s spokesman reacted strongly to John Bolton’s op-ed on the upcoming Turkish vote
Ankara slams US ‘colonial governor’ for election meddling

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has denounced former US national security adviser John Bolton as a would-be “colonial governor” whose attempts to interfere in Turkish democracy are doomed to fail. Bolton had proposed threatening Turkey with expulsion from NATO in a piece published by the Wall Street Journal.

“Bolton, who previously admitted that he supported coups, called on NATO to intervene in the elections in Türkiye. It is a futile effort to try to take the democratic will of the Turkish nation under tutelage,” Kalin tweeted. “Gone are the days when you played colonial governor,” he added.

The Turkish-language tweet also linked to Bolton’s op-ed in the WSJ, published on Tuesday, in which the hawkish Republican advised NATO to “put Ankara’s membership on the chopping block” as a way to influence the Turkish elections.

Bolton accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being “divisive and dangerous,” subverting the constitution, wrecking the economy, and pursuing “belligerent regional policies.” Türkiye is a member of NATO, “but it isn’t acting like an ally,” Bolton argued.

A member since 1952, Türkiye commands the second-largest army within NATO and hosts the Allied Land Command headquarters in Izmir. Relations between Ankara and Washington have been fraught in recent years, however, after the US sanctioned Türkiye over its incursions into Syria and the decision to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia in 2019.

While Bolton currently holds no public office in the US, he previously represented Washington in the UN and served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser until he was fired in 2019. The champion of regime change in Venezuela, Iran, and Russia recently said he might run for the White House in 2024 if Republicans do not disavow Trump.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has run Türkiye for almost 20 years. He has been president since 2014, and was prime minister before that. AKP currently has 286 seats in the 600-seat Grand National Assembly, while the largest opposition party, CHP, has 134.

By law, Ankara must call a general election by mid-June. On Wednesday, Erdogan proposed moving the vote up to May 14, the anniversary of the first Turkish multi-party elections in 1950. 

Several opposition parties are reportedly working together to challenge the president, but have yet to agree on a joint candidate. One widely rumored choice, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, was convicted last month of insulting public officials and disqualified from running for public office.