Biden’s track record gives mixed signals about future of U.S.-Turkey ties - columnist

If U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s previous track record is anything to go by, his new administration’s stance towards Turkey will be shaped by both values and pragmatism, Algemeiner columnist Burak Bekdil said on Wednesday.

Last month, Biden’s campaign issued a statement underlining the Democratic candidate’s support for Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, where the country’s dispute with Turkey continues to deepen over the future of Cyprus and access to natural gas reserves.

“Joe will call out Turkish behaviour that is in violation of international law or that contravenes its commitments as a NATO ally,” the campaign said, according to Berkdil.

Berkdil said Biden has also expressed his support for recognising the Armenian Genocide, a move long opposed by Turkey. U.S. Congress officially recognised the genocide in December 2019, but President Donald Trump did not support the resolution.

Turkey, however, remains a key member of the NATO alliance and could still prove useful in balancing Russian influence, a possible key tenant of Biden’s foreign policy priority, columnist said.

“Pragmatism and diplomacy often win out over sentiment even in times of difficult relations,” Berkdil said.

Biden had shown a willingness to mend relations with Ankara in the past, officially apologising in 2014 for remarks in which he linked Turkey to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and again in 2016 for not immediately showing support for the country’s government following the coup attempt earlier that year, Berkdil said.

A Biden administration may therefore seek to balance “pragmatism and ideological caution” in its dealings with Turkey, he said. But ultimately this may be an impossible balance to pull off.

“Biden cannot opt for a pragmatic paradigm with Turkey that is completely divorced from concerns over civil liberties and human rights. Turkey’s ever-widening democratic deficit makes that impossible,” Berkdil said.