Erdoğan-Biden meeting to mark a ‘watershed moment’ – analyst David L. Phillips

The meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on June 14th represents a major opportunity for Turkey to correct its mistakes and try to redeem its relations with Washington, David L. Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights said on Saturday.

NATO is more than a security alliance, it is coalition of countries with shared values, which Erdoğan does not respect, Phillips told Ahval’s editor-in-chief Yavuz Baydar in Ahval’s Hot Pursuit podcast series.

Phillips stressed that there is nothing in Erdoğan’s history to suggest that he is going to take a deep breath and put things back on track.

“When you look at Turkey’s performance, it supports jihadists in Syria who committed terrible crimes against the U.S allies there which confronted ISIS and defeated it. Turkey deployed 6,000 jihadist mercenaries to Libya,” the analyst said.

But due to strategic relations with Turkey, U.S officials are reluctant to put the country into its list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, according to Phillips.

“Turkey must come to grips with realities. If it continues to behave like a rogue regime or narco-state, there is big price to pay,” he said.

Phillips said that Turkish people should realize that Erdoğan and his government have been a huge discredit and embarrassment to them, noting that the time has come for them to take matters into their own hands.

Phillips emphasised that the United States thinks that a regime change coming from an external source is not the correct way to go.

“We want to have an ally in Turkey we can work with. Right now, Turkey is heading a wrong direction,” Phillips said. “I certainly hope he’ll make the hard choices to put U.S-Turkey relations back on track. Otherwise, the course of events will not be Turkey’s interests.’’

Phillips said that Washington maintains multiple tools to punish Turkey, but it does not want to have to play “big brother’’ and punish Turkey for its bad behaviour.

“But, that’s what will happen if Erdoğan continues to violate the international order” he added.

Noting that the United States is aware of the delicacy of issues between the countries, Phillips noted this does not mean the country would “turn away from the truth.”  

“If Erdoğan remains stubborn and arrogant, Turkey is going to go from a deep state to a failed state or a narco-state and nobody wants Turkey to collapse,” the analyst said. “The June 14th meeting between U.S President Joe Biden and Erdoğan will truly be watershed moment.”

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