Biden administration can’t be wholly opposed to Turkey - foreign policy expert

There are limits to how tough Washington can get with Ankara, U.S. foreign policy expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Robert Kagan told Greek daily Kathimerini on Monday.

The dilemma that Washington and the West have with Turkey is that the country has been acting independently of NATO, placing it among potential partners that are problematic, but the United States must continue its dealings with it to an extent to pursue its own interests and responsibilities in the region, Kagan said.

“They have to choose to work with some. They can’t be wholly opposed to Russia, Iran and also Turkey,” according to the expert.

Part of the fault in the damage done to the relationship lies with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kagan said, but the onus is also on the United States.

“We had an opportunity to work with Turkey in Syria in a way that would have caused Turkey far fewer problems,” the analyst said. “Our basic unwillingness to do that led Erdogan to look after Turkish interests as he saw fit.”

Ideally, the United States would “engage in the region and help the Turks solve some of their problems, which we’ve in some ways exacerbated,” Kagan said. “But the obstacles to such a constructive relationship are enormous - and could get worse.”

The improvement in the United States’ relations with Greece, directly affected by the decline in that with Ankara, will not be negatively affected if Ankara and Washington patch things up, he added.

Greece and turkey have been at loggerheads over a series of disputes, including over maritime territory and rights to natural resources in the Mediterranean and the Aegean.

Last week, Greek and Turkish foreign ministers exchanged harsh criticisms in a live broadcast, and this week saw two top officials from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuse Greece of attempting to set a migrant dinghy on fire in the Aegean.