No breakthroughs expected from first Erdoğan-Biden meeting

There is little hope for a major breakthrough on differences of opinions between Turkey and the United States during the long-awaited Erdoğan-Biden meeting in Brussels, Reuters reported.

Turkish President Erdoğan and US President Biden are seen ahead of their meeting within the NATO summit (Reuters).


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden will on June 14 discuss strained relations between the two NATO allies in their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office, but there is little hope for a major breakthrough.

Turkey has the Western alliance's second-biggest military after the United States but Ankara's purchase of Russian defense systems, disagreements over Syria, human rights, the treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have hurt ties.

The most challenging problem has been Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 systems, a rift that also divides NATO. Washington has already removed Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program and imposed sanctions over the acquisition.

As president, Biden has recognized the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide and stepped up criticism of Turkey's human rights record, adopting a cooler tone towards Erdoğan than his predecessor Donald Trump.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the two leaders would also touch on Afghanistan, Libya and China.

"They will talk about political and economic issues that are more challenging ... that have been challenges in our relationship, including human rights-related issues," Sullivan told reporters on June 13. 

One area where Erdoğan hopes to showcase a central Turkish role in NATO is Afghanistan, where Turkey has offered to guard and operate Kabul airport to secure access to the country after the U.S.-prompted NATO withdrawal.

At the start of the main leaders' session at NATO, Erdoğan and Biden spoke at length in a small group before they took their seats. Biden is expected to hold a news conference at 1800 GMT.

Leaving Turkey, Erdoğan said he expected an "unconditional approach" from Biden to moving on from past troubles.

"Turkey is not just any country, it is an allied country. We are two NATO allies," he told reporters.

"There are many issues regarding defence industry that were left on the table. The most important one of these is the F-35 issue," Erdoğan said.

Before the summit, Erdogan met French President Emmanuel Macron. Ankara and Paris have been at odds over Syria, Libya, and Turkish criticism of the fight against what Macron calls Islamist separatism, among other issues.

Erdoğan and Macron discussed working together on Libya and Syria while the French president said his country and its secular laws respected all religions, including Islam.

But with so many points of contention, hopes for any substantial breakthrough are slim.

"While both sides are expected to pursue some pragmatic engagement and neither is interested in a showdown, the meeting will not provide Erdoğan with any meaningful dividend," consultancy Teneo said ahead of the talks.