Press Releases | July 21, 2022

TDP Denounces President Erdogan’s Meeting with Russian and Iranian Leaders

(Washington, D.C.) — The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP) condemns Turkish president Recep Erdogan’s visit to Iran to meet with President Vladimir Putin and President Ebrahim Raisi, two leaders who have deep contempt both for NATO and for the democratic values that NATO represents.

The Turkish, Russian and Iranian presidents met for a trilateral summit in Tehran yesterday as part of the so-called “Astana peace process”, with the aim of enhancing cooperation between the three countries and discussing regional conflicts, including Ukraine and Syria. With Erdogan eyeing new military action in Syria, where Russia has established a sphere of influence, and increasingly looking to Putin’s Russia for economic support, the summit enabled Erdogan to meet the Russian president in person for the first time since his invasion of Ukraine.

Despite Turkey’s membership in NATO, Erdogan has refused to join international sanctions against Russia, is actively encouraging Russian oligarchs to relocate to Turkey and has been accused of turning a blind eye to Russia’s trafficking of stolen grain in the Black Sea.

The trilateral summit comes after Turkey threatened once again to veto Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO after Sweden’s Supreme Court rejected the extradition of Yilmaz Aytan, a Turkish national and alleged senior member of the Gülen Movement. It is widely accepted that any move to prevent the Nordic countries’ accession to the Alliance would be gratefully welcomed by Vladimir Putin, for whom NATO expansion represents a long-standing obsession.

Commenting on Erdogan’s meeting with the Russian and Iranian leaders, Madeleine Joelson, executive director of the Turkish Democracy Project, said:

The Turkish president’s meeting with Putin and Raisi shows deep contempt both for NATO allies and the suffering of Ukrainians. NATO cannot continue to turn a blind eye to Erdogan’s constant backroom brokering with its most inveterate adversaries. Turkey may belong in NATO, but Erdogan does not.”

Ambassador Mark Wallace, CEO of the Turkish Democracy Project, added:

Unable to find support for his deplorable military action in Syria among his NATO allies, Erdogan has chosen to turn to two notorious dictators who have repeatedly shown their complete disregard for basic human rights. Erdogan does not belong in NATO.”