- The Turkish leader, who won reelection Sunday, was expected to attend the meeting, which is meant as a show of solidarity against Russia.
A massive gathering of European leaders on Thursday has suffered its first high-profile casualty, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulling out at the last minute.
The Turkish leader, who won five more years at the helm of his country in second-round elections on Sunday, will not travel to Moldova for the one-day summit, according to three officials involved in the preparations.
The so-called European Political Community (EPC) — a new collective launched in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine — is meant to draw together European leaders beyond the EU. More than 40 European leaders will be present Thursday, including those from all 27 EU countries plus non-EU countries like Britain and Turkey, as well as the Western Balkan nations.
The gathering, set to take place outside Chișinău, Moldova’s capital, is the second summit held under the EPC banner, following an inaugural meeting in Prague last October.
Erdoğan attended that summit in the Czech capital but clashed with his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis during an end-of-summit dinner.
Erdoğan, who has dominated Turkey’s politics for two decades, won the country’s election on Sunday, despite a strong showing by a coalition of opposition parties.
The 69-year-old leader is expected to announce his new Cabinet on Friday with an inauguration scheduled for the following day.
European leaders started arriving in the Moldovan capital of Chișinău Wednesday ahead of the summit, which is taking place in a castle and winery 35 kilometers outside the city.