Asking for trouble: Erdogan recites ‘controversial’ poem

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

Once again, with his heedless delusions of grandeur, the hotheaded Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sets off another crisis this time in the presence of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

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During his visit to Baku to attend nationwide celebrations marking Azerbaijan’s triumph over Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Erdogan delivered a speech during which he recited a poem by the Azerbaijani poet Mohammed Ibrahimov.

The poem talks about dividing the Azerbaijani borders by force and refers to the forcible separation of areas on both banks of the Aras River located between Azerbaijan and Iran.

It seems that the Turkish president’s poetic affinities sparked a diplomatic crisis. His controversial choice of poetry was seen as provocative meddling aimed at rubbing salt in an ancient Iranian-Turkish wound.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to Tehran, Derya Ors, to convey Tehran’s condemnation of President Erdogan’s recitation of the poem about the Aras River, located on the border between Iran and Azerbaijan, which Tehran considered as an attack on Iran’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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This is not the first inflammatory political poem that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recited during his speeches, in fact, about twenty years ago, when he was mayor of Istanbul, he was imprisoned for reciting what was considered a revolutionary “Ottoman” poem.

Last year, President Erdogan recited that same poem that was written by the Turkish poet, Ziya Gökalp; however, it seems that the times have changed.

It is truly disheartening to witness this futile archaic mentality of repeating stirring poetry and flashy slogans in an absurd attempt to incite public sentiment. I guess it is true; the worst misfortunes are the ones that make you laugh.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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