While the Turkish president quickly backtracked on his earlier statement that he would not meet top US officials, he slammed Germany’s foreign minister, calling him “a man who doesn’t know his place.” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded with a series of angry attacks against top foreign officials as the international community has sought to escalate pressure on Turkey over its military operations in northern Syria. Just hours ahead of the arrival of US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the country’s capital Ankara, Erdogan rejected meeting the delegation.
“I am not going to talk to them. They will be talking to their counterparts,” he said resolutely, adding that “when Trump comes here I will talk.” Despite these comments, the Turkish presidential office soon announced that Erdogan is after all prepared to hold face-to-face talks with Pence and Pompeo on Thursday. White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien met Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday. The US delegation is expected to push for a ceasefire but Erdogan rejected this ahead of talks.
Meanwhile, President Erdogan also personally blasted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, calling him a “political dilettante” over Germany’s decision to halt weapon exports to Turkey. Erdogan also claimed that Germany’s move would have no real impact, sarcastically saying “we’re finished” as a result of the temporary restrictions. “If you understood anything of politics, you wouldn’t say that,” he said referring to the arms restrictions announced by Maas, who has, in fact, been a Cabinet member in Germany since 2013. The ties between both countries were particularly rocky in the aftermath of 2016’s failed coup attempt in Turkey and the widespread crackdown by Erdogan’s regime that followed, which has been widely criticized in Germany.