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Turkey's Erdogan cancels his visit to COP26 climate summit over security protocol

Sources say row over organisers placing restrictions on size of Turkish delegation in Glasgow
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a press conference at the end of the G20 summit in Rome on 31 October 2021 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled his visit to Scotland for the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference because of the lower security protocol applied for the Turkish delegation, two people familiar with the issue told Middle East Eye. 

Erdogan was expected to lead the Turkish delegation on Monday and Tuesday on the climate change negotiations being attended by world leaders including US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Two people told MEE that the organisers put restrictions on the size of the Turkish delegation as well as motorised vehicles that could be used by the Turkish officials during the conference, which raised security concerns.  

The host British government at the weekend backtracked and told its Turkish counterparts that it would apply the same protocol used by the US president to Erdogan, seemingly an update in terms of the security details.

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However, the British government changed its mind again and Erdogan decided to cancel, according to the same sources. 

The summit has been seen as important for Turkey after its parliament ratified the Paris climate agreement earlier this month, becoming the last G20 country to do so after holding off for years because it saw itself as being unfairly categorised in the agreement. 

The Paris agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change that has the goal of limiting an increase in global temperature to less than 2 degrees Centigrade worldwide.

Turkey has been a signatory to the agreement since April 2016 but had not ratified the deal, arguing that it should not be considered a developed country as part of the agreement, as it is historically responsible for a very small share of carbon emissions.

During a G20 summit press conference in Rome on Sunday, Erdogan said that he shared his government’s declaration to end carbon emissions in Turkey by 2053.

“The countries aren’t in an equal position in the climate change process which is a  global struggle,” Erdogan said. “As we have expressed before, the burden-sharing should be fair between the developing and developed countries.” 

The Turkish environment minister and other high-ranking officials are expected to attend the conference, despite the absence of the president.

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