Washington embassy incident during Erdoğan’s visit happened due to US authorities’ failure, Turkish MFA says

MFA Spokesman Hüseyin Müftüoğlu
MFA Spokesman Hüseyin Müftüoğlu

Supporters of the PKK, recognized as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S., triggered a melee outside of Turkey's Washington Embassy during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the country on May 16.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement late Thursday, citing U.S. authorities' failure to take precautions as the main reason for the incident.

In the statement, the ministry also rejected the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs' decision to condemn the intervention by President Erdoğan's security detail.

"The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives today (May 25) hastily voted and passed a one-sided resolution that distorts the facts. We reject the said resolution. The incident that took place in front of the Turkish Ambassador's Residence during the visit of President Erdoğan to Washington D.C., was caused as a result of the refusal of U.S. authorities to take the necessary security measures, despite repeated official warnings," the ministry said.

"There is no answer to the question why the U.S. authorities did not take tight security measures in front of the ambassador's residence as they did in other stages of the visit. Likewise, no explanation has so far been provided for the incident that took place afterwards in front of the Chancery, caused by extreme and aggressive actions of the U.S. security authorities and was officially protested by our ministry," the MFA added.

"Further advancement of this resolution in the legislative process with a view to changing the basis will not help the settlement of the matter. We would like to keep our hope that the developments regarding this matter, which we will be following closely, will not overshadow the visit that we consider was productive."

During Erdoğan's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at around 12:30 p.m. local time, PKK supporters, as well as some protesters carrying Armenian flags, started shouting slogans against Turkey and Erdoğan at Lafayette Square park, just north of the White House.

A group of Turkish citizens, who were also there to support Erdoğan and Turkey, started to respond to the group's verbal harassment.

As the altercation started, Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police and U.S. Secret Service Agents were also around. Turkish citizens were moved from the area by the police, but PKK sympathizers stayed where they were. The Turkish citizens reportedly objected to this.

After hearing the objections, police sent PKK supporters off to a far corner of the park across from the embassy and cordoned off the area with police tape. The police did the same to the Turkish citizens, sending them off to an area where there was a direct line of sight to the White House.

The first fight reportedly broke out at the Turkish Embassy when supporters of the terrorist group threw water bottles at Turkish citizens, triggering a 10-15 second fist fight in the middle of the road.

Only two police officers interceded in the fight, and it was clear the police were not ready for this scene, as there were only around 10 police officers outside the embassy.

Later when Erdoğan arrived at the embassy building, protesters continued their grave insults, shouted slogans and threw water bottles. Some Turkish citizens and the head of the president's security detail stepped in.

After security interceded, the group dispersed.

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