Erdogan names Trump, Putin among leaders whom he admires

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 11, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump, left, talks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as they arrive together for a family photo at a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The White House says Turkey will soon invade Northern Syria, casting uncertainty on the fate of the Kurdish fighters allied with the U.S. against in a campaign against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday named U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as the leaders whom he most admires.

In a Q&A with university students, Erdogan said he struggles to name a current inspirational leader from Europe.

“When we look at Europe, there is a serious leadership crisis, a leadership vacuum,” Erdogan said. “I don’t find the courage in myself to say such and such leader is exemplary in Europe.”

Erdogan praised Trump as an open leader who says what’s on his mind.

“Whether you like him or not, Mr. Trump is an important name. He has no hidden agenda,” Erdogan said. “He says things to me in a clear and open way, and I tell him things in a very open way.”

Erdogan also described Putin as having “no hidden agenda” and being frank and open toward Turkey, adding that he believes that he and the Russian leader would be able to bring peace to Syria. He called Sheikh Tamim a “young and dynamic leader” who stands by impoverished countries.

Erdogan has forged close ties with both Trump and Putin. Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in London last week, Trump said he had a great relationship with Turkey, although he said the U.S. was considering imposing sanctions on Ankara for buying a Russian-made missile defense system. Erdogan and Putin meet frequently and are cooperating in energy, defense and in Syria, despite differences of views.

Erdogan named the Prophet Mohammed and modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, among inspirational personalities from the past. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are among past European leaders that he admires, Erdogan said.