Strike one: Baseball bat deals a blow to US-Turkey relations (ISRAEL HAYOM) Eli Leon 08/05/12)
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Photo depicting U.S. President Barack Obama holding a baseball bat
while speaking to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the
phone seen as an insult • The photo reveals who calls the shots, says
one Turkish opposition lawmaker.
A photo in which U.S. President Barack Obama is seen holding a
baseball bat while speaking on the phone to Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked outrage among the Turks, who
interpreted the photo as an insult to Erdogan. The Turkish prime
minister is considered to have a close relationship with the American
The phone conversation in question took place on Monday, when the two
leaders discussed the escalating violence in Syria. Shortly after the
chat, the White House issued a photo of the president holding the
phone in one hand and a baseball bat, signed by baseball legend Hank
Aaron, in the other.
"The photo reveals from whom our prime minister receives orders to
rule the country," Metin Lutfi Baydar, an opposition politician for
Turkey’s Republican People´s Party (CHP) party, said in a statement.
Another CHP leader, party Vice President Umut Oran, called the
picture "an implicit insult to Turkey and its citizens” in
parliament, asking whether Erdogan planned to issue a response.
In response, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden issued a
statement insisting the "we released the photo with only one purpose
in mind, to highlight the president´s continuing close relationship
with Prime Minister Erdogan and draw attention to the important
conversation they had about the worsening situation in Syria."
"The president values his friendship and close partnership with Prime
Minister Erdogan on a range of important issues on which the United
States cooperates with Turkey," she wrote.
Meanwhile, in Turkey, not everyone was taking the photo too
seriously. A columnist for the major Turkish newspaper Hurriyet
proposed a retaliatory photo: "Our prime minister should hold
something in his hand while speaking to Obama — slippers, a belt or a
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