Erdoğan too toxic for Biden’s Democracy Summit, says Turkey expert Erdemir

U.S. President Joe Biden would like to continue a pragmatic relationship with Turkey, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime is too toxic across the U.S. political spectrum to invite him to the Democracy Summit, according to Aykan Erdemir, a senior program director for Turkey at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) and a former opposition member of the Turkish parliament.

It would be embarrassing for Biden to pose with Erdoğan at a time when Turkey is one of the worst offenders in the areas of academic freedom, press freedom, and rule of law and democracy, Erdemir told Ahval’s podcast series 12 Minutes on Thursday.

The Democracy Summit started on Thursday morning with Biden’s opening speech. The virtual summit is seen as one of Biden’s key foreign policy initiatives as he seeks to push back against a global wave of authoritarianism.

The summit was among Biden’s presidential campaign promises in 2020. While Turkey is not invited over Erdoğan’s record of undermining democratic systems, there are more than 100 countries participating in the summit.

Erdemir believes Turkey’s exclusion from the summit is “yet another reminder”, not only of cold relations between the two leaders, but also of the continued bipartisan consensus in Washington that Turkey is neither a functioning democracy nor a close ally that merits such an invitation.

According to the FDD expert, many observers expect the summit to be an anticlimactic event that will not amount to much. Nevertheless, the signalling for Ankara remains negative, regardless of whether the Democracy Summit succeeds or fails.

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