Ankara’s expectations from the Biden administration - MEHMET ACET

Ankara’s expectations from the Biden administration

The results of the election held Tuesday were finalized only Saturday, and Democrat candidate Joe Biden was declared the 46th U.S. president. The first order of congratulations for Biden’s election victory from Turkey was interestingly extended by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Kılıçdaroğlu tweeted the following message in both Turkish and English:

“I would like to congratulate Joe Biden for his election as the 46th President of the United States of America and Kamala Harris as Vice-President. I look forward to strengthening Turkish-American relations and our strategic alliance.”

Considering Biden’s statements in January 2020 (statements with respect to supporting Turkey’s opposition and removing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from power), these words, which, under normal circumstances, could be thought of as innocuous and simply a message of congratulations paves the way to interpretations such as hasty and enthusiastic to do their bidding.

Since Tuesday, there has been an atmosphere that “Biden’s victory will automatically mean victory for the CHP” in the country, has there not? Yet this is not the intriguing part of the matter in the last few days in terms of journalistic activity.

It would be more worthwhile to first convey to you the atmosphere in “administrative ranks.”

In a part of the program we did on national TV network Kanal 7 yesterday with Vice President Fuat Oktay, I asked him questions concerning the results of the U.S. elections.

Oktay stated that the main outlines of U.S. foreign policy will not include serious changes from one president to another, and said they consider relations based more on “subject” than on individuals:

“We have main subjects at hand with the U.S. These main subjects are not related to individuals. Regardless of who is in the administration there, at the diplomatic level, and at the presidential level, our channels are already open with all relevant institutions and organizations, and will continue to function.”

In saying “subject-based” titles, two main titles related to terrorism come to the fore. One of these is U.S. protection and support for the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), which staged the July 15, 2016 coup. The other is the support provided to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)/People’s Protection Units (YPG) terror group on Turkey’s southern border.

Vice President Oktay underscored Turkey’s legitimate position while discussing U.S. relations with terrorist organizations and the support given to these organizations, and made the following evaluation:

“We experienced a coup attempt. The person behind this is in the U.S. There is nothing more natural than requesting his extradition. We are going to increasingly intensify our pressure. We hope that the U.S. will cease working together with the terrorist organization or organizations, and that it will choose to work with states.”

In reference to the situation in northern Syria, Oktay says, “When we see a threat, we still first discuss, then take the necessary action. We act in accordance with the requirements on the field,” giving the message that regardless of what the new administration in the U.S. does, Ankara will not step back from its determination.

Meanwhile, it can be said that there is also a clear will in relation to keeping channels of dialogue open with the new administration.

When I posed the question, “Will Mr. President call Biden and congratulate him? Or will he publish a congratulatory message?”, Oktay replied saying:

“Of course. This is normal. Just as there were calls with other presidents, those calls will happen. I do not think there will be any problem.”

Recently, “leaders’ diplomacy” has become a frequently used concept in relation to foreign policy attempts carrying on through President Erdoğan’s leadership.

Making reference to Erdoğan’s dialogue with Trump during the most challenging periods, Oktay states that the same is very much possible during Biden’s term as well:

“We experienced this with Trump. The establishment of healthy communication between the two leaders at a time of maximum ambiguity, and, in fact, a time of many problems, despite these problems being extremely critical, ensured much healthier cooperation. Therefore, regardless of who is in the new administration during the new term, it will continue in a similar manner.”

However, the statements Biden, the 46th U.S. president, made with respect to matters concerning Turkey during his campaign term, are clearly and seriously problematic.

Besides the statement he made in January, a few weeks ahead of the elections, he openly made statements in support of Greece in the East Mediterranean, and demanded that Hagia Sophia be converted back into a museum.

Vice President Oktay added that such statements were made during the election term with the influence of lobbies.

Biden’s East Mediterranean statements are considered to be statements made with the intention to gain the support of the Greek lobby.

Oktay states that these discourses will change with the end of the election term and the start of the presidential term:

“My expectation, predictions within this frame are that these are normally discourses during an election term, and realities after winning the presidency. There will be a transition phase. It is impossible to disregard Turkey.”

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