Democratic Party presidental nominee, Joe Biden’s, comments on Turkey and President Erdoğan have become top tweet in Turkey. Biden says on video that he is very concerned about Erdoğan’s approach to the Kurds.
In interviews of the then candidates for the Democratic nominations, Joe Biden, the former US vice president, answered questions from the editors of the New York Times. The interview was made in January, but reappeared on Al-Arabiya on 13 August.When a Kurdish journalist tweeted the video, it spreaded rapidly, creating major debate in Turkey. Biden’s criticism of Erdoğan angered the Turksih authorites, and Presidential Communications Director, Fahrettin Altun, said: “Biden’s statements are merely a reflection of intervenist approaches and the games that are being played over Turkey.”
Demokratların ABD Başkanlığı adayı @JoeBiden Türkiye’de muhalefeti destekleyerek @RTErdogan iktidarını değiştireceğini ve en son yapabileceği şeyin Kürtler hakkında Erdoğan’a “taviz vermek” olacağını söyledi. Joe Biden samimi bir Kürt ve Kürdistan dostudur. pic.twitter.com/PqzGuOWWUF
— Arif Zêrevan (@ArifZerevan) August 15, 2020
“What I think we should be doing is taking a very different approach to him now, making it clear that we support opposition leadership,” Biden says in the interview. He calls Erdoğan an ‘autocrat’, and criticises Washington’s politics regarding Turkey.
“He is an autocrat. He’s the president of Turkey and a lot more. What I think we should be doing is taking a very different approach to him now, making it clear that we support opposition leadership.” says Biden. He argues that Erdoğan should be defeated, and Washington should embolden the opposition leaders to be able to take him on. Biden then says, repeatedly, “Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by electoral process,” and he gives the example of the local election results in Turkey, saying “ Erdoğan got blown out in Istanbul.”
“We are in a position where we have a way which was working for a while to integrate the Kurdish population who wanted to participate in the process in their parliament, etc. Because we have to speak out about what we in fact think is wrong.” says Biden, commenting that Erdogan has to pay a price.
Biden criticises Trump’s politics regarding Northern Syria, and says that Washington “yielded to Erdoğan,” adding: “The last thing I would have done is yielded to him with regard to the Kurds.”
Turkey’s presidential spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, responded harshly on his twitter account. Kalin wrote: “The analysis of Turkey by Joe Biden is based on pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy, the days of ordering Turkey are over.”Here is the part of the New York Times that talks about Turkey:
NYT: Do you feel comfortable with the United States still having nuclear weapons in Turkey given Erdoğan’s behavior?
The United States has about 50 nuclear weapons based in Turkey. This began to stir public debate after Turkey’s offensive into Syria in October.
The answer is my comfort level is diminished a great deal. I’ve spent a lot of time with Erdogan.
More than anybody in our administration did because Erdogan concluded that he’d only talk to me because he thought I wasn’t anti-Islam. Remember when I made that speech to NATO saying, when he got elected, “You had to reach out. This is an opportunity to bring another Muslim country.” And you knew why they were acting the way they did in other countries in Europe, to not reach out at all for the first election. We have had —
NYT: You mean because of anti-Muslim bias?
Yeah. I’ve spent a lot of time with him. He is an autocrat. He’s the president of Turkey and a lot more. What I think we should be doing is taking a very different approach to him now, making it clear that we support opposition leadership. Making it clear that we are in a position where we have a way which was working for a while to integrate the Kurdish population who wanted to participate in the process in their parliament, etc. Because we have to speak out about what we in fact think is wrong. He has to pay a price. He has to pay a price for whether or not we’re going to continue to sell certain weapons to him. In fact, if he has the air defense system that they’re flying F-15s through to see how they can try to figure out how to do it.
So I’m very concerned about it. I’m very concerned about it. But I’m still of the view that if we were to engage more directly like I was doing with them, that we can support those elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist and get more from them and embolden them to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process. He got blown out. He got blown out in Istanbul, he got blown out in his party. So what do we do now? We just sit there, and yielded. And the last thing I would’ve done is yielded to him with regard to the Kurds. The absolute last thing.
I had a couple of those meetings with him about the Kurds, and they did not clamp down at the time. We have to make it clear that if they’re looking to, because, at the end of the day, Turkey doesn’t want to have to rely on Russia. They’ve had a bite out of that apple a long time ago. But they got to understand that we’re not going to continue to play with them the way we have. So I am very concerned. I am very concerned. I’m very concerned about our airfields and access to them as well. And I think it takes an awful lot of work for us to be able to get together with our allies in the region and deal with how we isolate his actions in the region, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean in relating to oil and a whole range of other things which take too long to go into. But the answer is yes, I’m worried.
The complete script of the interview can be found here.