Politicians from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and several opposition parties have slammed U.S. Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden over his remarks on Turkish politics.
Biden's comments to New York Times editors, where he advocated a new U.S. approach to the "autocrat" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and support for opposition parties, resurfaced in a video that made him the most popular topic on Twitter in Turkey on Aug. 15.
Biden, the former U.S. vice president, says in the video recorded on Dec. 16 2019 - before he emerged as the Democratic candidate - that he is "very concerned" about Erdoğan's approach to Kurds in Turkey, 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 Erdoğan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process."
His remarks were slammed by numerous politicians in Turkey, with Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun saying that his comments "reflect games and an interventionist approach towards Turkey" and are inconsistent with current diplomatic relations.
"Nobody can attack our nation's will and democracy or question the legitimacy of our President, who was elected by popular vote," Altun said on Twitter, noting the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt.
US Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s remarks (made in December but reported by the media today) reflect the games being played over Turkey and their interventionist attitudes. These remarks are not in line with democracy and the nature of Turkish-American relations.— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) August 15, 2020
"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.
Another high-level official to slam Biden was Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, who said that his remarks are based on "pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy."
"The analysis of Turkey by Joe Biden is based on pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy. The days of ordering Turkey around are over. But if you still think you can try, be our guest," Kalın said in a tweet on Aug. 16.
"You will pay the price," he added.
The analysis of Turkey by @JoeBiden is based on pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy.— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) August 16, 2020
The days of ordering Turkey around are over.
But if you still think you can try, be our guest.
You will pay the price.
Gülnur Aybet, a senior advisor to Erdoğan, shared Biden's comments and responded to his remarks.
1. ‘Elements’ can’t enter elections— Gülnur Aybet (@Gulnuray) August 15, 2020
2. Kurds ARE in Parliament
3. F-15? Could he have meant F-35?
4. Many in #EU agree wrong to ‘isolate’ Turkey - a #NATO ally - in Med.
5. Saying ‘not a coup’ twice implies it was an option considered.
6. Very concerned indeed! ?♀️ @JoeBiden pic.twitter.com/jYPBlCByzu
Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç was another official to mention the July 2016 botched coup when criticizing Biden.
"Politicians who unreservedly and publicly apologized for not giving strong and timely support to our democracy when it came under attack on July 15, 2016 should be consistent in their views on key issues like upholding democratic values and respecting democratic choices of people," Kılıç said on Twitter.
Politicians who unreservedly and publicly apologized for not giving strong and timely support to our democracy when it came under attack on July 15,2016,should be consistent in their views on key issues like upholding democratic values and respecting democratic choices of people— Serdar KILIÇ (@serdarkilic9) August 15, 2020
While U.S. President Donald Trump and Erdoğan speak regularly, diplomatic relations have been strained over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, policy in Syria and over U.S. charges against Turkish state bank Halkbank for allegedly helping Iran evade sanctions.
Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) won a handful of major cities in the local elections last year in a stinging defeat for Erdoğan and his ruling AKP, which polls show still has the most support nationwide.
The opposition also criticized Biden, with CHP spokesperson Faik Öztrak saying, "Our democracy and endeavor for freedom do not need any imperialist favors. Independence is our character.”
He said that the opposition would do politics for the sake of Turkish nation, not of foreign political actors.US evaluating response to Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems: Pompeo
Temel Karamollaoğlu, head of the Islamist Felicity Party, slammed Biden’s remarks in a written statement and said his party would not let any foreign actors "design domestic politics of Turkey."
“We have knowledge and experience to deal with problems on our own no matter how big they are,” he said. “Worldwide peace will never be achieved unless the US stops meddling in national politics of others,” he said, adding that Biden should focus on problems of his own country.
Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan said Turkish democracy was powered by its nation, and political parties did not need any external support to gain electoral success.
Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu also took to Twitter to voice criticism and said the Turkish nation was the only actor to decide who would govern the country and his party did not recognize any other power than the will of the Turkish nation.Turkey 'loyal to S-400 agreement with Russia'