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Turkey's Erdogan stays silent as world leaders congratulate Biden

Erdogan has cultivated a friendly relationship with President Trump [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 November, 2020

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The Turkish president has yet to follow suit with other world leaders by congratulating Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has yet to join a chorus of world leaders congratulating Joe Biden on his victory in the US election.

While leaders from Canada, the United Kingdom, the Arab world, South Korea and other major American allies were quick to welcome Biden as the president-elect, Turkey has so far only offered a muted response from its vice president.

"Any election in any country, any change in power does not change anything for us," Vice President Fuat Oktay said in a televised speech on Sunday.

"The channels of communication will work as before, but of course there will be a transition period," Oktay said, adding that Turkey will closely monitor any changes in foreign policy.

Turkey will continue to press the next US administration to extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen - who Ankara accuses of masterminding a 2016 coup attempt - and quit its support for Kurdish-led forces in Syria, Oktay added.

The leaders of Turkey's main opposition party and the smaller, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have offered Biden their congratulations.

Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu's welcoming of a Biden administration prompted even criticism from a ruling party official.

"Look at the one who has not congratulated Erdogan after any of his 15 election victories,"  Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chair Bulent Turan said in a tweet on Saturday.

'Autocrat'

President Erdogan cultivated a warm relationship with Donald Trump as relations between Turkey and other Western nations strained, managing to avoid sanctions over his country's controversial purchase of a Russian missile defence system.


What relationship will have Erdogan and Biden remains unclear, but the Democratic president-elect has previously courted controversy among supporters of the Turkish leader.

In a 2019 interview that resurfaced on Turkish social media this summer, Biden criticised Trump's relationship with Erdogan and called for the Turkish leader's defeat at the ballot box.

"I've spent a lot of time with him. He is an autocrat. He's the president of Turkey and a lot more," Biden said in the interview with editors from The New York Times. "What I think we should be doing is taking a very different approach to him now, making it clear that we support opposition leadership."

"We can support those elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist and get more from them and embolden them to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process," he added.

Biden also criticised Erdogan over Turkey's search for energy resources in the disputed eastern Mediterranean, and advocated for Ankara to "pay a price" for its offensive against US-supported Kurdish-led forces in Syria.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin slammed Biden over the comments when the interview reappeared in August.

"The analysis of Turkey by Joe Biden is based on pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy," Kalin said.

"The days of ordering Turkey around are over. But if you still think you can try, be our guest. You will pay the price."

Turkish opposition figures also criticised the now-president-elect over the comments, calling for him to "respect the sovereignity of Turkey".

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