As Venezuela's political crisis deepens, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan has thrown his support behind President Nicolas Maduro.
In recent years, the two leaders have found their interests increasingly intertwined.
When opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself Venezuela's interim president last week,
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was one of the few state leaders to call Nicolas Maduro to express his unwavering support
for the embattled leader.
In a sense, the Turkish president was paying his respects to Maduro, who came out in support Erdogan after the failed coup
in Turkey in July 2016.
On the telephone Erdogan reportedly told Maduro:
"My brother, stand firm."
Maduro, meanwhile, received plenty of support on social media
from across the world, and especially from Turkey, where the
#WeAreMaduro hashtag soon gained popularity.
For a change, both those on
the political left and supporters of Erdogan agreed on something, namely that Maduro should stay in power.
So it was not all that surprising that Maduro gave his first interview after Guaido's
declaration to a Turkish television station.
Serkan Bayram, a member of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and chairman
of the Turkey-Venezuela Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, says there are political
and economic reasons for the increasingly close relationship between both countries.
"Turkey is reacting to the fact that a president who was elected by 68 percent of the populace
is now being deposed through undemocratic means," says Bayram, who believes that
Venezuela's self-declared leader Guaido is being instrumentalized "by global actors."
Turkey, says Bayram, is working to boost trade in general and
Venezuela falls within this policy.
According to the Turkish government statistics, Turkey in 2018 imported $900 million (€780 million) in precious metals
from the Latin American country.
Much of this is believed to be gold.
And Venezuela announced last year that it intends refine its gold in Turkey, rather than Switzerland, to bypass
There have also been a number of mutual state visits between Turkey and Venezuela since Maduro's first
trip to Turkey in October 2016.
Returning from the G20 summit in Argentina in late 2018, Erdogan made a stop-over in Caracas, where
he lambasted the United States and international sanctions imposed on Venezuela.