NEW YORK – Turkey on Saturday condemned as “interventionist” comments that U.S. Democratic presidential contender former Vice-President Joe Biden had made in December when he advocated a new U.S. approach to the autocrat President Ragib Tayyip Erdogan and support for opposition parties.
Biden’s comments to New York Times editors resurfaced in a video that made him the most popular topic on Twitter in Turkey, where Erdogan has governed for 17 years and has good relations with U.S. President Donald Trump.
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
Biden says in the video he is “very concerned” about Erdogan’s approach to Kurds in Turkey, intervention in Syria, his partial military cooperation with Russia, and access to U.S. airfields in the country, a NATO ally.
“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 said in the video and verified by a transcript published in January by the Times.
“He has to pay a price,” Biden said at the time, adding Washington should embolden Turkish opposition leaders “to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process.”
In the interview Bidern emphasized that the US should coordinate with allies on how to isolate Erdogan’s actions in the region, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean in relating to oil and a whole range of other things.
In response, the Turkish president’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said the comments “reflect games and an interventionist approach towards Turkey” and are inconsistent with current diplomatic relations.
“We believe that these unbecoming statements which have no place in diplomacy by a presidential candidate from our NATO ally, the United States, are unacceptable to the current administration too,” he added.