Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today released the following statement after President Donald J. Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the White House and held a joint press conference in the East Room.
“President Erdogan has embraced authoritarian rule in all of its sinister dimensions, including the jailing of thousands of journalists and persecution of political rivals. In a direct affront to the United States, he has unleashed his bodyguards to brutally assault peaceful protesters on American soil, threatened NATO’s security by purchasing an advanced Russian missile defense system and most recently launched a vicious military campaign against Kurdish communities in Northern Syria. For these and so many other reasons, Erdogan is wholly undeserving of an invitation to the White House. President Trump’s decision to host him there is a deep insult to democracy, free speech, self-determination and common decency.”
Congressman Sarbanes has been a longstanding and forceful critic of President Erdogan and Turkey.
- In May of 2017, Congressman Sarbanes condemned the attack on peaceful protestors – on American soil – by President Erdogan’s Turkish bodyguards. He delivered additional remarks denouncing the attack in June of 2017.
- After the attack by President Erdogan’s bodyguards, Congressman Sarbanes called on the Trump Administration to prevent the sale of firearms and ammunition to the Turkish President’s security forces.
- In December of 2017, Congressman Sarbanes joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to demand that the Trump Administration publicly call on Turkey to cease its politically motivated prosecution of human rights defenders.
- In April of 2018, Congressman Sarbanes questioned the Trump Administration’s misguided decision to drop charges against President Erdogan’s bodyguards who violently assaulted peaceful protestors.
- In June of 2018, Congressman Sarbanes led a bipartisan effort urging the Trump Administration to block the sale and delivery of the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet to Turkey – an effort that ultimately succeeded.
- In October of 2019, Congressman Sarbanes blasted President Trump’s reckless decision to betray America’s Syrian Kurdish partners and allow Turkey to launch a military offensive against Kurdish communities in Northern Syria.
- In October, Congressman Sarbanes voted for H.J. Res. 77, a bipartisan resolution opposing President Donald J. Trump’s decision to abandon America’s Syrian Kurdish allies and criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for launching a brutal military offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria.
- In October, Congressman Sarbanes sharply criticized the Trump Administration for lifting sanctions on Turkey.
- In October, Congressman Sarbanes also voted to pass H.R. 4695, the Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act, a bill to punish Turkey for launching a ruthless military campaign in northern Syria. The bill would also require the Trump Administration to safeguard America’s national security interests and address the humanitarian crisis in the region.