NOVI PAZAR, Serbia – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has received a rousing welcome as he visited a predominantly-Muslim region in southwestern Serbia. Hundreds of people waving Turkish and Serbian flags lined the streets of Novi Pazar, where Erdogan arrived Wednesday with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic. Erdogan is on a two-day visit to Serbia, pledging to boost economic and other ties as part of stepped up efforts by Ankara to increase its clout in the Balkans. Relations between Serbia and Turkey have improved in recent years after decades of mistrust between the two nations. Serbia was ruled for almost 500 years by the Ottoman Empire.
Turkish influence is already strong among fellow Muslims in Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo, but mainly Orthodox Christian Serbia is traditionally much closer to Russia. However, Belgrade and Ankara, which both want to join the EU but are frustrated by the slow pace of progress, are keen to increase bilateral trade.
Erdogan condemns Israel's bill on quieting call to prayer Safeguarding Al-Aqsa shouldn't be left to children Calls for Palestinian state with East Jerusalem its capital Erdogan condemns Israel's bill on quieting call to prayer Safeguarding Al-Aqsa shouldn't be left to children Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged all Muslims to defend the Palestinian cause and said it is their obligation to protect Jerusalem. Speaking in Istanbul at a parliamentary symposium on Jerusalem, Erdogan said "it is the common duty of all Muslims to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem" and that safeguarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque should not be left to children armed with nothing but stones. He also condemned a proposed Israeli bill on Tuesday that limits "noise levels" at places of worship in Jerusalem, a plan seen as an attempt to silence the Muslim call to prayer. Highlighting "policies of repression and discrimination against our Palestinian brothers", Turkey's president also said safeguarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque should not be left to children armed with nothing but stones. Last month, UNESCO passed a resolution condemning Israel for restricting Muslim access to the mosque.