Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to attend the traditional luncheon, hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the 69th session of the UN General Assembly, as he was placed at the same table with Egypt’s President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi, who he called a pro-coup leader.
President Erdoğan had been invited to the head table of the reception. He was supposed to be sitting with Ban Ki-moon, the host of the luncheon, US President Barack Obama, Felipe VI, the King of Spain, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, South African President Jacob Zuma and Jordan's King Abdullah bin Hussein. However, Egypt’s President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi, was among the dignitaries who were invited to the head table, in which Zuma was placed between Erdoğan and Sisi.
Soon after his arrival to the UN headquarters for the reception, Erdoğan decided not to attend the luncheon when he learned of the table seating. Erdoğan said he would not act contrary to his principles and would not sit at the same table with the pro-coup leader. “I do not legitimize the military coup in Egypt by staying at the same table with its perpetrator,” said Erdoğan, when leaving for Turkish Center in New York.
As he returned back to the Turkish Center earlier than expected, Erdoğan was thought to have been working on his speech he would deliver before the General Assembly, but later revealed that he left the luncheon in protest of the UN mind-set legitimizing the Egyptian coup.
Erdoğan criticize UN for legitimizing Egyptian coup
Speaking in front of the General Assembly, Erdoğan slammed the UN for not calling the military intervention a coup. “While the democratically elected President of Egypt was overthrown by a military coup and thousands of innocents were massacred when they just wanted an account for their vote, the UN and democratic countries chose to legitimize the person, who conducted this coup,” he said.
The President also accused the UN for turning a blind eye to the military coup in Egypt. Erdoğan said, "We should respect the choice of the people at the ballot box. If we want to support coups, then why does the UN even exist?"
Meanwhile, Erdoğan’s comments , which questioned the legitimacy of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, prompted anger in Cairo.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry heavily criticized Erdoğan’s comments at the UN General Assembly over the legitimacy of the Egyptian President. “There is no doubt that making up such lies and fabrications are not something strange that comes from the Turkish president, who is keen to provoke chaos, and incite divisions in the Middle East region through his support for groups and terrorist organizations, " the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Sisi toppled Morsi a year after he came to power in a free vote in July 2013. Turkey strongly criticized the coup in Egypt and slammed the West for not calling the coup a military intervention.. The relations between the two countries have remained strained since the ouster of President Morsi through a military coup by the former army chief Sisi.