No Venezuelan officials in Turkey: Erdogan

No Venezuelan officials in Turkey: Erdogan

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied that any high-ranking Venezuelan officials have fled to his country, as the South American nation slides further into economic and political turmoil.

Erdogan, a firm supporter of Nicolas Maduro, was reacting to a claim by the Venezuelan president’s challenger, opposition politician Juan Guaido, who declared himself acting president last month, claiming Maduro has lost legitimacy.

About 50 countries, including the United States, recognise Guaido as Turkey’s interim president.

“Nobody has fled Venezuela to take refuge in my country,” Erdogan said, in reply to a question during an interview with national broadcaster NTV. “It is not true.”

Guaido, in a tweet Saturday, made reference to “senior officials” who had “gone to Turkey”.

“If he says such things it is because he does not know Turkey,” Erdogan insisted. “He has to learn a few things first. Being a statesman is not so easy.”

Erdogan again defended Maduro, who he insisted had been elected to the presidency, while Guaido had not.

Erdogan and Maduro are old allies, and the Venezuelan president was the first world leader to express backing for the Turkish leader after an attempted coup d’etat in Turkey in 2016.