Trump calls Erdoğan to congratulate him on election win
President Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday to congratulate him on his election victory last weekend, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said.
Turkish voters delivered a decisive victory to Erdoğan on Sunday, extending his 15-year rule in the country and giving him sweeping new executive powers.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday said that a call was being set up between the two leaders to “reaffirm” the “strong bond” between the U.S. and Turkey.
The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment about the reported phone call.
The Turkish election on Sunday was the first since voters approved a referendum last year abolishing the office of prime minister and drastically expanding the president’s authority.
Erdoğan received 53 percent of the vote, according to Anadolu, allowing him to avoid a runoff against his chief rival Muharrem Ince, who got just 31 percent of the vote.
At the same time, Erdoğan’s conservative party and its allies took about 53 percent of the vote in the country’s legislative elections.
Erdoğan’s tenure in office has seen solid economic growth for Turkey, and he remains highly popular among his voter base.
But the Turkish president has also presided over a crackdown on political opponents, civil servants and journalists under a state of emergency declared in 2016 following a failed coup attempt.
Concerns about Turkey’s treatment of political opponents entered headlines in the U.S. last year after a brawl broke out in front of the country’s embassy in Washington after Turkish security forces attacked demonstrators protesting Ankara’s treatment of ethnic Kurds.
The U.S. and Turkey have, at times, bumped up against one another, notably in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, where Turkey has sought to push back the Kurdish YPG militia. The YPG is backed by the U.S. but Ankara considers the group a terrorist organization.
Erdoğan has stirred concerns among some NATO members by nudging Turkey closer to Russia. Ankara recently purchased an S-400 surface-to-air missile battery from Moscow and is working with Russia on a nuclear power plant in Turkey.