President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday denounced a wave of protests in the U.S. after Donald Trump was elected president.
“All that was done in opposition to Trump in Europe and across the United States is a disrespect to democracy,” Erdogan told Israeli-based Channel 2 in an exclusive interview.
“First and foremost, those who believe in the ballot need to have respect” for the results, the president said.
“If they don’t, then this means they don’t understand democracy, they can’t tolerate it and they don’t have respect for it.”
Hours after the results showed a stunning victory for Trump, protests began in dozens of cities against the president-elect and continued for days.
Erdogan said he and Trump spoke via telephone on the first night after his election. “We agreed that there are a lot of things we are going to do between Turkey and the United States,” he said.
Regarding Trump’s policy positions on Muslims and immigrants, Erdogan said, “I absolutely don't believe" the president-elect would follow up on the harsh rhetoric he used while campaigning.
“As a matter of fact, he made amends in his later statements,” Erdogan said, referring to proposals that watered down his original demands.
Trump’s controversial pledges included imposing a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S. and religious profiling against American Muslims.
Turkey-U.S. ties have been strained in recent months over two issues: Washington’s reluctance to extradite Fetullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and according to Ankara is the mastermind of a bloody failed coup attempt against the Turkish state in July, and the U.S.’s cooperation with PKK-affiliated terror groups on the Turkey-Syria border against Daesh.
Erdogan said he talked to the Hillary Clinton campaign about not accepting donations from groups related to Gulen-led Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) that is active in the U.S.
“I told them, ‘you are making a mistake’,” Erdogan said of the Democratic campaign.
As for the PYD and anti-Daesh fight, Erdogan questioned the West’s efforts against Daesh, accusing unspecified Western actors of helping to arm Daesh militants.
“We see that airplanes drop weapons, and half of them go to PYD and (its military wing) YPG, and half of them to Daesh,” Erdogan said, adding that the problem of foreign fighters joining extremist ranks has a lot to do with Westerners volunteering for groups like Daesh.
The PKK is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and EU, but Washington does not consider the PYD/YPG as a terrorist entity but a “reliable partner“ in Syria to fight Daesh.
The PKK-affiliated Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG in Syria, martyred more than 600 security personnel in Turkey’s southeastern border since July 2015.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Erdogan said his administration favors a two-state solution. The Turkish president also said Hamas should have a seat at the table representing Palestinians, and violations against Masjid al-Aqsa should stop.
Asked whether Turkey would act as a mediator, Erdogan said: "If it is asked of us, why shouldn't we? All we want is peace for that region."