ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Remarks made by the United States President Donald Trump about the Middle East were “disturbing,” said his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.
“Mister Trump made some statements. And currently, we are watching them,” Erdogan said without specifying what statements he was referring to.
“We are thinking of the Middle East more than bridges and railroads [we build in Turkey],” he continued. “What will Trump's attitude be in the Middle East?”
The Turkish President was speaking to reporters at a press conference at Istanbul Ataturk Airport before his departure for a visit to the southeastern African nations of Mozambique, Tanzania, and Madagascar.
“We are with a Middle East whose territorial integrity is respected. We are never thinking of a divided Middle East, and that would not be right,” Erdogan said, according to Kurdistan24’s Istanbul bureau.
“We, as Turkey, cannot say yes to such an idea,” he added.
Erdogan, again, did not specify what Middle Eastern “division” he implied but Turkey’s strongly voiced concerns about the territorial integrity of both Iraq and Syria where Kurds have managed to create quasi-states are well-known.
Trump gave interviews and speeches during his presidential campaign where he said he was a fan of the Kurds because of their role in fighting the Islamic State (IS).
The US President also said he would support the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq.
The possibility of the two Kurdish entities gaining more international recognition and legitimacy has alarmed Turkey.
Turkey is afraid over demands of similar political and territorial self-rule by its millions-strong Kurdish population in nearly over 20 adjacent provinces in its east and southeast.
Erdogan told reporters he would meet with Trump and “raise the issue” but did not know yet when a meeting could take place as Turkey’s Foreign Ministry was working to arrange one.
“Turkey is the strongest country in the Middle East and the one shaping it,” declared Erdogan.
He concluded by reminding of his earlier criticism of former US President Barack Obama’s policies in the region especially about the Kurds.
“I think it would not be right for humanity and our world if those who even remotely have nothing to do with the Middle East make some historical mistake about it,” Erdogan stated.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany