Will Biden turn over a new leaf with Erdogan? - MEHMET ACET

Will Biden turn over a new leaf with Erdogan?

Yesterday, as the deadline for submitting this column was about to run out, nothing was yet final about the results of the U.S. elections.

But the chances of Democratic candidate Joe Biden winning against Republican candidate Donald Trump were looking better than the day before, and he was so close to clinching victory as Trump held on by the skin of his teeth.

There’s one more thing:

The fact that the election held on November 3rd of this year was the one with the highest turnout in 120 years since William McKinley won the presidential elections in 1900 (with a turnout of 66.9 percent according to a BBC report) should be regarded as a sign of just how much the polarization among U.S. voters has increased.

The fact that an average turnout of 50-55 percent suddenly jumped in this election shows that both candidates’ supporters are heavily politicized.

Meanwhile, the margin of votes between the two candidates is not as high as predicted by the polls, in other words, we did not have the kind of decisive table that can go unchallenged, and on top of that, Biden seems to have hit the jackpot with all the “mail in” votes, which Trump had opposed from the very beginning, as he constantly cast doubt on the situation by saying "Look I was right all along" as he stirs an even more “polarizing” controversy that triggers an atmosphere of insecurity.

We do not know where this will end, but even if it is taken to the court and its announcement is delayed, it would be better to start thinking now about what to expect from Turkey-U.S. relations in this new phase, as the winner of the elections is likely to be Joe Biden.

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM/PESSIMISM

On behalf of those who are wracking their brains over the results of the U.S. elections and the future of Turkish/American ties, the statements made by former Deputy Prime Minister and Ankara lawmaker Yalçın Akdoğan, who had served as an advisor to President Tayyip Erdoğan for years, give us a good perspective.

In his tweet on Wednesday, Akdoğan presents two different future scenarios:

“Cautious pessimism: Biden winning would not be the end of the world.

Cautious optimism: Trump winning is no bed of roses.”

Akdoğan proceeds to explain this statement over the course of his tweet:

“Turkey-U.S. ties have always experienced strains but there’s an obvious shift in axis. No matter who wins, the importance of Turkey will not wane.”

As can be understood from these expressions, the term "cautious" carries a meaning with regards to the word that follows it.

In a sense, what’s being stressed is the need to "not be swept off the ground" over the prospects of Trump being reelected, nor "go into mourning" over the possibility of Biden being elected.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu gave the first official reaction to the U.S. elections, whose results were still not finalized yesterday.

Striking a tone of “caution,” Cavusoglu said "No matter who the American people elect as their president, we, as Turkey, we are ready to continue to work in close cooperation with the U.S. administration."

It would not be wrong to take this as an implicit message to Biden and his team.

If Biden is declared the winner, what will determine his Turkey policy?

Now let’s come to the million dollar question.

Should Biden be declared as the new president of the U.S., what type of policy will he adopt vis-a-vis Turkey?

Will he maintain the profile he had maintained during his term as vice president?

Or Will he act in line with the statements he made during his presidential candidacy?

Why are we asking these questions?

There are two stark differences between these two eras.

When he served as Obama’s Vice President, Biden repeatedly met with Erdogan, who was both Prime Minister and President at the time, and had adopted an attitude that was not "prone to surprises," except for the blunder he made with regards to Daesh in 2014.

However, his statements since the day he set out to become the Democrats candidate speak volumes.

We’re talking about a Joe Biden who just back in January had promised while speaking to New York Times editors to topple Erdogan by cooperating with the opposition, who expressed his wish in a written statement that Hagia Sophia be converted back into a museum, who sided with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean, and worse still, who threatened to use force against Turkey.

It’s for that reason we’re asking which version of Biden from all these different eras will he govern as?

Will he be elected as president and walk that “big talk”? Or will he follow a more pragmatist line towards cooperation?

There doesn’t seem to be anything else to do but wait to find out the answers to these questions.

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