Biden should remind Erdoğan of NATO’s tenets, values – analysts

U.S. President Joe Biden should use his upcoming meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to warn the Turkish leader that his rejection of transatlantic values and trouble making for NATO are harmful to the security and welfare of both the alliance and Turkey itself, wrote analysts Eric Edelman and Aykan Erdemir in political website The Hill on Saturday.

The U.S. leader should also remind Erdoğan that Russia is one of the key adversaries from which NATO serves to protect its members, and stress the alliance’s concern and bi partisan anger within the U.S. Congress about Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Edelman and senior director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Erdemir said.

U.S. President Biden is set to hold his first meeting since coming into office with Turkish President Erdoğan on the margins of the June 14 NATO summit in Brussels. The meeting arrives against the backdrop of a string of issues plaguing relations between the NATO allies, Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile systems, which Washington maintains is incompatible with NATO technology and a threat to the alliance.

“Erdogan, who enjoys a close rapport with Russian President Vladimir Putin, remains a disruptive force within NATO,’’ the pair wrote, recalling Ankara last month used its veto power to water down alliance’s official condemnation of Belarus over its forcing down a passenger plane to arrest a dissident journalist on board. 

“The Turkish president’s rush to protect (Belarusian President Alexander)Lukashenko is only the latest example of Erdogan coming to the Kremlin’s aid by softening NATO’s actions against Russian threats,’’ they said. 

According to the analysts, the U.S. president should also highlight human security and the importance of rule of law during the meeting.

Turkey ranks as 101st out of 113 countries, according to the World Justice Project’s rule of law index and the country has remained “Not Free” in Freedom House rankings for six consecutive years since 2014. 

The pair pointed to Turkey’s crackdown on the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the country’s second largest opposition party. A top Turkish prosecutor has filed an indictment calling for the closure of the party and scores of HDP MPs, mayors and party officials are behind bars on terror charges.

Other items on Biden’s agenda should be calling for the release of two staffers of the U.S. Department of State who are house arrest and jailed on “baseless terrorism charges,’’ they said, as well reminding Erdoğan of the importance of freedom of religion or belief.

“Biden should make it clear that the United States will stand its ground when it comes to defending the integrity of NATO and remain in solidarity with pro-democracy forces in Turkey and beyond,’’ Edelman and Erdemir wrote.