Erdoğan adviser slams Financial Times for publishing unflattering NATO photo

The Financial Times has sought to create a “perception operation” against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by publishing an unflattering photo with U.S. President Joe Biden on its front page, presidential adviser İsmail Cesur said on Tuesday.

The photo, also published by Reuters, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, has created intense discussion on social media and prompted clarifications from the three news agencies. It showed Biden standing over a seated Erdoğan at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Monday. The Turkish president, who was fist-bumping with Biden as he rose from his chair, appeared as if he may be bowing to Biden or about to kiss his hand.

The Financial Times’ decision to publish the picture, chosen from many taken at the NATO summit, showed the dimension of Erdoğan’s political struggle, Cesur said.

“We are behind you to the end WORLD LEADER,” he said.

The summit marked the first time Biden and Erdoğan came together in person since the former’s inauguration in January. The two leaders held a one-on-one meeting that lasted for some 45 minutes. It was designed to help resolve political tensions between their two governments.

Erdoğan has vowed frequently to make Turkey one of the most powerful countries in the world and has criticised the United Nations Security Council for being an exclusive club that fails to reflect global power balances. He has also censured the United States on a series of issues, including its support for Kurdish fighters in Syria.

The photo sparked an immediate backlash from Erdoğan’s supporters on social media and glee from his opponents. Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun later shared a video showing the complete physical exchange between Erdoğan and Biden.

Biden said the meeting had been “productive”, while Erdoğan called it “useful and sincere”. The two are at political loggerheads over Turkey’s acquisition of S-400 air defence missiles from Russia and over policies on Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean.

Agence France-Presse first published the photo with the caption “U.S. President Joe Biden (R) greets Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a plenary session at a NATO summit in Brussels on June 14, 2021.” Reuters and the Associated Press used similar wording.

AFP later changed its caption to read “U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) fist bump during a plenary session of a NATO summit at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, on June 14, 2021.”

Reuters issued an apology.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience caused. Refile: Adding details to clarify the action,” Reuters said. It amended the caption to say: “Turkey's President Tayyip Erdoğan rises from his chair to fist bump U.S. President Joe Biden during a plenary session at a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2021.”

The Associated Press also altered its phrasing, saying: “Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, center, fist bumps with U.S. President Joe Biden, right, as he stands up to greet him during a plenary session at a NATO summit in Brussels, Monday, June 14, 2021.”

This block is broken or missing. You may be missing content or you might need to enable the original module.