Senate Leaders, Greek, Armenian Groups Protest Erdogan’s Washington Visit

Police in Washington DC are girding themselves for the return of Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, 18 months after the Turkish president’s bodyguards ran riot in the city, assaulting protesters and American security officers.

Greek, Armenian and Kurdish organizations are planning rallies in the American capital to protest the Turkish President’s visit, while Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned President Trump for inviting Erdogan to the White House.

The Order of AHEPA and Armenian National Committee have invited all members of the public to meet at 12 PM in Lafayette Square to voice opposition to Trump’s meeting with Erdogan, who has drawn international outrage for launching military strikes in Northeastern Syria — uprooting hundreds of thousands of civilians and killing dozens more.

AHEPA President George Horiates said the organization is calling on all chapters nationwide to help defy Erdogan.

“We call upon all AHEPAns to attend a peaceful demonstration to encourage the West to stop turning a blind eye toward Turkey,” Horiates said. “Defend Hellenism now. It is needed more than ever.”

The Chicago-based Hellenic American Leadership Council also released an official statement condemning the meeting.

“Turkey is not a friend of the US, and Turkey’s President Erdogan should never have been invited to the White House,” Public Affairs Director Thanos Davelis said. “His regime leads the world in jailing journalists; violates human rights at home and abroad; occupies the northern part of Cyprus; invades Greek airspace; tramples on religious freedom; helps Iran evade sanctions; purchases Russian missiles; attacks US partners and allies; engages in ethnic cleansing in northeast Syria; and continues to deny genocide.”

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, strongly urged US President Donald Trump  to cancel any invitation to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House until he commits himself to upholding democratic values.

On Tuesday he outlined 10 issues that President Trump should bring up with Turkey’s President Erdogan, including Turkey’s Invasion of Cyprus, Ongoing trespassing in Greek Airspace, Invasion of Northern Syria, Purchase of Russian-made S-400 and the extradition of Erdogan’s security detail, who assaulted peaceful protesters in Washington, DC in May, 2017.

“While Erdogan may not believe in the right of peaceful protests in his home country, but I hope that Erdogan learns his lesson that here in the United States. The right to peaceful assembly is enshrined in our constitution and core to our democracy, and I hope that President Trump clearly reminds them of this fact,” said Sen. Menendez in a 15-minute Senate floor speech.

Here is a look back at how Erdogan concluded his 2017 visit to DC: