Turkey’s Erdogan voices support for Venezuela’s Maduro

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to offer support after the opposition leader declared himself interim president and won the backing of Washington and various Latin American nations.

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

Socialist Maduro described Juan Guaido’s move as a coup attempt. The United States, Canada and right-leaning Latin American governments recognised Guaido.

Turkey joined Russia and several other countries which came out in support of Maduro, with presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin writing on Twitter that Erdogan told Maduro Turkey would support him.

“My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you!” Kalin quoted Erdogan as telling Maduro. “Under the leadership of President Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey will maintain its principled stance against all coup attempts. #WeAreMADURO,” Kalin said.

Turkey has a long history of coups, most recently a failed putsch in 2016, thwarted by Erdogan supporters who took to the streets to fight the putschists. About 250 people were killed during the attempted coup.

Economic and political ties between Ankara and Caracas have grown stronger, with Erdogan criticising sanctions against Venezuela during a visit there last month, without directly mentioning the United States or President Donald Trump.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the United States and other Latin American countries have constantly meddled in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

“There is an elected president and on the other hand the head of congress declares himself de facto president. Some countries recognised this. This may cause chaos,” Cavusoglu told the A Haber news channel.

Many Turks voiced support for Maduro on social media using the hashtag, #WeAreMaduro. One posted an image of Maduro picking up a small Turkish flag and another one of him holding the flag of a historic Turkish clan.

“You’re not alone, big-hearted man. Turkey is with you,” another wrote.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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