Ailing Erdogan re-emerges by video link with Putin
Turkiye’s ailing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday re-emerged from a two-day absence and spoke by video link with Vladimir Putin at a virtual ceremony unveiling a Russian-built nuclear power plant.
The 69-year-old leader suspended all campaigning for Turkiye’s pivotal May 14 election after getting sick while conducting a live TV interview on Tuesday evening.
Erdogan said he had developed an upset stomach while hopping between five cities for rallies and public project launches at the start of the week.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday that Erdogan had “infectious gastroenteritis” — a short-term illness caused by the inflammation of the digestive tract.
But the scare forced Erdogan to cancel events on Wednesday and then stay at home instead of traveling to the Mediterranean coast for Thursday’s grand opening of Turkiye’s first nuclear power plant.
The video appearance represented Erdogan’s effort to project health and vigor at one of the more vulnerable moments of his two-decade rule.
But he looked wan and visibly frail as he addressed Putin and the nation from behind his presidential desk.
“Our country has risen to the league of nations with nuclear power, albeit after a 60-year delay,” Erdogan said in prepared remarks.
Putin praised Erdogan’s leadership and said Moscow was “always ready to extend the hand of friendship” to Turkiye.
“I want to say it straight: you know how to set ambitious goals and are confidently moving toward their implementation,” Putin added.