Duterte meets Turkey’s Erdogan in Beijing

Pia Ranada

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Duterte meets Turkey’s Erdogan in Beijing
The Philippine leader has a pull-aside meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, another leader known for his charisma and strongman leadership

BEIJING, China – President Rodrigo Duterte had a pull-aside meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China.

Duterte revealed this in a news conference upon arriving in Davao City early morning Tuesday, May 16.

“By the way, I had a talk with the President Erdogan and the Prime Minister of – si Erdenebat – sa (of) Mongolia,” he volunteered.

The meeting with the Mongolian leader took place on Saturday, May 13. The meeting with Erdogan took 10 minutes, according to a Palace official. No other details had been released.

Duterte said the two leaders met with him supposedly to ask if they can “join” the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which the Philippines chairs this year. He said he favored it. (READ: Duterte on Turkey, Mongolia joining ASEAN: ‘Yes, why not?’)

Gusto nila mag-sali sa ASEAN (They want to join ASEAN). And since I am now the chair, ang Pilipinas ngayon (it’s the Philippines as chair now), they wanted me to sponsor that entry and I said, ‘Yes, why not?'” he said.

The President recalled that Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, who was also at the Beijing event, asked him whether the two countries could be considered part of Southeast Asia – one of the criteria for ASEAN membership.

Duterte said he responded that he believed both are part of the ASEAN geographical area.

Turkey, while considered to be straddling Europe and Asia, is nowhere near Southeast Asia. Mongolia is bordered by China and Russia.

Two strong-arm leaders

The Philippine President may have found a kindred soul in Erdogan, a leader known for his charisma, but also for his penchant for strong-arm rule.

The Turkish President recently won a referendum that keeps him in power until 2029 and curbs powers of Turkey’s parliament and judiciary.

Like Duterte, Erdogan started as a local government official. He is a former mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s capital.

Huffington Post’s description of Erdogan sounds uncannily similar to descriptions of Duterte: “Erdogan possessed an uncanny ability to reach out to both ordinary folks who admired his authenticity and sincerity, and to the business elite, who admired his competence and vision.”

Like Duterte, Erdogan is compared to leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Under Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey experienced unparalleled economic growth and political stability. But under his watch, the liberal-progressive opposition faced intimidation and harassment, showing Erdogan has little patience for dissent.

Aside from Erdogan, Duterte had bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and Mongolian Prime Minister Jargatulygn Erdenebat. (READ: Duterte: China ‘sincere’ about commitments to PH)– Rappler.com


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.