While loud protests were taking place out front, US President Donald Trump welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House.
The meeting took place despite numerous calls to cancel it and hold Turkey accountable for numerous actions that are seen contrary to American values, as well as foreign policy goals in the region.
US Senator Robert Menendez took to the Senate Floor to express his displeasure the night before, arguing that it was “stunning to think that any American President would legitimize Erdogan’s harmful policies by welcoming him to the Oval Office.”
The Senator from New Jersey outlined ten questions the American President should ask Erdogan when they meet, including his decision to purchase missiles from Russia and Turkey’s repressive attitudes against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Congressman Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also led a bi-partisan House of Representatives effort to press President Trump to rescind his invitation to Erdogan.
In a letter, the members underscored that “Erdogan’s bloody campaign in Syria has destabilized the region and endangered U.S. national security.”
Meanwhile outside the White House, American citizens of Greek and Armenian descent voiced their opposition calling Turkey out on countless human rights violations— even war crimes.
Numerous Greek American organizations, including the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) marched alongside Armenian-Americans and others to demonstrate Erdogan’s presence in the U.S. capital.
Trump defended his decision to meet Erdogan and said that the two have been “very good friends” for a long time and they understand each other.
During the press conference between the two leaders, Trump said he was a “big fan” of Erdogan’s and he called the Turkish President “highly respected.”
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