One of the most interesting but under-reported stories at the United Nations General Assembly this past week was the brawl which developed between Turkish security agents escorting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UN security officers. Colum Lynch at Foreign Policy has been all over the story, not only breaking it, but now he has supplied amateur video of the melee. Short synopsis: Erdoğan and his detail tried to force their way through a secured door and resorted to fisticuffs when they didn’t get their way. Two UN employees were injured, one of whom had to go to the hospital.
Interestingly, Turkey—a country where press freedom has tumbled under the leadership of Erdoğan—did not initially report the incident. A Turkish journalist, however, did say that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon subsequently apologized to Erdoğan for the incident. This in turn infuriated UN security officials who appear to have done nothing wrong.
Erdoğan is thuggish in personality and in policy. No diplomat or official should enable him. Apologizing to Erdoğan is like offering crack to an addict. By Erdoğan’s own logic, rather than have UN officials genuflect, shouldn’t he apologize and pay compensation to the injured party? And shouldn’t the UN recognize that officers, when attacked, not only have the right to but should also defend themselves? Probably the only thing that hasn’t happened yet (but there’s still time) is for accompanying minister Egemen Bağış or a member of his delegation to accuse the UN officers of having Jewish blood, as they did the Bulgarian foreign minister.
It’s time to stop tolerating this Turkish nonsense and, despite the steady stream of affirmation the Turkish press provides their leader, let Turks know Erdoğan’s antics are a permanent stain on their reputation.