US President Biden who has for long given Turkish President Erdogan the second class treatment, suddenly had the urge to call him. Why and what happened in the phone conversation? Turkish foreign policy expert Mrs Zeynep Gurcanlı claims Biden wanted Erdogan to continue his efforts to keep Russia and Ukraine talking, while he refused to venture into outstanding disputes like Turkey’s possession of Russian made S-400s. Another long-term Ankara observer, Mr Ihsan Caralan wrote that the West had laid siege to Turkey to make sure she doesn’t succumb to Russian temptations. Other authorities called upon EU to re-connect with Turkey to secure peace in Caucuses.
What really happened and could the phone call lead to better relations?
Here is the account of events by Ahval News
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden issued markedly different accounts of a phone call held between the two leaders on Thursday.
According to a read-out from Erdoğan‘s office, the Turkish president urged Biden to lift “unjust” U.S. sanctions on his country’s defence industry and insisted that the United States approve Turkey’s request to purchase 40 new F-16 fighter jets and modernise its existing fleet.
Turkey has been forced to rely on ageing F-16s after being removed from the next-generation F-35 fighter programme by the United States in 2019 for purchasing the Russian-made S-400 missile system.
Ankara’s efforts to update and expand its existing F-16s have since been complicated by U.S. sanctions imposed on Turkey’s defence industry over the S-400 purchase and opposition within the U.S. Congress.
A statement from Biden’s office following the call made no mention of U.S. sanctions on Turkey or the F-16 issue. The talks instead focused on responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.
“In addition, the presidents discussed opportunities to strengthen bilateral ties,” it added.
Biden’s own account of the talks similarly emphasised the need for action against Russia.
“We discussed the importance of continued international efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its aggression and to support the Ukrainian people as they confront this crisis,” he said in a social media post.
“I spoke today with @RTErdogan to coordinate our responses to Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. We discussed the importance of continued international efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its aggression and to support the Ukrainian people as they confront this crisis”, tweeted Biden.
“The request for the jets will likely have a difficult time getting approval from the U.S. Congress, where sentiment towards Turkey has soured deeply over recent years, opined Reuters.
Ukraine Crisis Could Cost Turkey $30 Billion
Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers urged the Biden administration in October not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and said they were confident Congress would block any such exports.
Middle East Eye’s take on the phone chat was as follows:
White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the call as “constructive”, saying they spoke for roughly an hour.
Turkey: A Historic Manifesto from Opposition for Democratization
Over the past years, Turkey has emerged as a pariah in the halls of Congress, with lawmakers concerned over Ankara’s ties with Moscow, disagreements on Syria policy and a crackdown on dissent.
But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought Turkey’s strategic role in Nato back into focus.
Ankara, a key supporter of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, has sent armed drones to the country and recently invoked the Montreux Convention to regulate the passage of warships through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits.
A European Nato official recently told Middle East Eye that Turkey had proven itself a “credible and important ally” during the lead up to Russia’s invasion.
At the end, PATurkey found no evidence that US sanctions against Turkey could be lifted any time soon. On the other hand, relations could take a turn for the worse, if Biden goes ahead with plan to exempt Syrian Kurds (considered PKK “wanna-be”s by Ankara) from Russia-related sanctions.
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