Erdogan holds talks in Serbia as Turkey hikes Balkan clout


An infamous brawl during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to DC in May led to an indictment charging 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence.

Thousands of people waving Turkish and Serbian flags lined the streets of Novi Pazar, in the Sandzak region, where Erdogan arrived with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Erdogan said the $800 million of trade between the two countries "is not enough" and that it should increase sharply in the near future.

Relations between Serbia and Turkey have improved recent years, after decades of mistrust between the two nations.

"This is not 1389, but 2017", Vucic said, referring to the year when the Ottoman occupation of Serbia started. Turkey considers them a terror group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, which has waged an insurgency within Turkey's borders for more than 30 years.

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"But, I have the courage to say I will work in the interest of all nations", he said.

President Erdogan Tuesday sought to personally blame U.S. Ambassador John Bass for the tensions. A banner in Novi Pazar on Wednesday showed Gulen dressed in a prison uniform.

The U.S. statement said the suspension of non-immigrant visa services was "effective immediately" to minimize visitor numbers to the U.S. Embassy and Consulate for now.

But a later version said: "This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-Visas and border visas", leaving open the question of whether United States travellers who already have visas would be allowed to enter Turkey.