Eric S. Edelman / Aykan Erdemir
On Monday, President Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will finally have their first in-person meeting, on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels. The Biden administration has set the ground well for the meeting by studiously limiting Erdogan’s access to the White House in marked contrast to its last occupant. Biden should use this opportunity to warn Erdogan that his rejection of transatlantic values and the spoiler role he plays within NATO hurt the security and welfare of not only the alliance but also Turkey and its citizens.
In his first major foreign policy address as president, Biden vowed to repair alliances, push back against “advancing authoritarianism,” and reclaim America’s “credibility and moral authority.” Soon after, Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Biden by pledging to put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Biden’s upcoming meeting with Erdogan presents the Biden administration the perfect opportunity to put these promises into action.
Erdogan, who enjoys a close rapport with Russian President Vladimir Putin, remains a disruptive force within NATO. The Washington Post broke the news on May 26 that Ankara used its veto power to water down NATO’s official condemnation of Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, who illegally forced down a passenger plane to arrest Roman Protasevich, a dissident journalist on board. Turkey reportedly also blocked punitive steps for which Baltic allies and Poland had pressed and even prevented calls for the release of political prisoners in Belarus.
Eric Edelman, a career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Turkey (2003-2005), is a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (@FDD). He also serves — with 137 others — on the advisory council of Justice for Kurds, a New York-based nonprofit created to defend the Kurdish people. Aykan Erdemir is a former member of the Turkish parliament and senior director of the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @aykan_erdemir. FDD is a nonpartisan think tank focused on foreign policy and national security issues.