Turkey's Prime Minister has said that he still believes Mohammed Morsi to be the legitimate president of Egypt. "Not," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, "because it is him personally, but because I respect the people who elected him in free and fair elections and gave him 52 per cent of their votes, and I would say the same thing if the Egyptians had chosen Mohamed ElBaradei as president."
Erdogan was speaking at a group Iftar (fast-breaking meal) held by the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development Party in the capital Ankara. "The world has changed and is no longer as it was in the past," he told those at the function, "and the same can be said about Turkey. In the past, people were subjected to injustice and humiliation, and they were forced to remain patient because of the absence of legitimacy and laws that could hold to account those who have wronged them."
What we have seen in Egypt has been portrayed to the world as the people of Egypt being for the coup against democratic legitimacy in order to give the army's move some legitimacy of its own, said Erdogan. "Those behind the coup obviously thought that the people would stand by silently while the military aborted the democratic process, but they have miscalculated public opinion." They can't ignore the election results, he added.
"The anti-democracy forces behind events in Egypt wanted to impose the same scenario in Turkey by pushing people to take to the streets to give the impression that everyone in Turkey is against the government and the ruling party; they were unable to achieve what they set out to do."
Stressing that free and fair elections determine whether a person or government continues to rule, the Turkish prime minister stressed that no one has the right to "assassinate" the right of others by removing those they have chosen from power under any pretext. "It is completely unethical if it happens."
Erdogan expressed his surprise at the annoyance of "those who came to power in Egypt by the coup" that he has not spoken to them. "How could I talk to you if you did not attain your positions through elections?" he asked rhetorically. "Your government came about through a coup; those appointed [to high office] came to power in the same manner."
He was astonished, he said, by the fact that an oath ceremony was held for the interim government. "The greatest surprise was when the individual who carried out the coup, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the Defence Minister, stood before the person he himself had appointed as the president of the country in order to take his oath." The Turkish leader continued: "Have you seen anything more tragic than that; in what democracy around the world would we see what is happening in Egypt now?"
He is equally astonished by the silence of the Western governments and their position towards the coup, which contradicts the principles of democracy that they call for. "If you call for democracy, then you should reject coups."
Erdogan also noted that an Egyptian official, referring to Mohamed ElBaradei, called him a few weeks ago and told him that he was "against coups", but after that began to take action in an effort to win the post of prime minister or president, before being appointed as vice-president of the Republic. "He wanted to call me again, but I refused out of rejection of his actions and words," concluded Prime Minister Erdogan. "I hope that Egypt gets back on the right path and regains its peace and stability as soon as possible."