Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is due to meet with Foreign Minister Antony Blinken in Washington on Wednesday – the latest step in establishing ties between the two NATO member states. Turkish diplomats will have difficult questions to answer when it comes to Turkey’s attempts to veto Finland’s and Sweden’s bids for NATO membership.
Ankara was once a close ally of Washington and has seen relations strained by Turkey’s poor human rights record and close ties between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Turkey’s strong support for Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion has provided an opportunity to restore US-Turkey relations, and analysts predict that Cavusoglu’s visit to Washington will help with that process.
But Asli Aydintasbas, a senior fellow in the Council of Europe, warned of Erdogan’s threat to use Sweden’s veto power and Finland’s offer to join NATO to overshadow the visit.
“It certainly complicates the visit but also makes it more important,” said Aydintasbas. “The Biden administration began with a policy of social distance, denial from the Middle East and no longer with Turkey as the big geopolitical prize in big chess. And Turkey shows that it is not going to let that happen.
“And of course, the Ukraine war has clearly increased the geographical location and importance of Turkey once again.
On Monday, Erdogan accused Finland and Sweden of supporting terrorist organizations fighting in Turkey, citing Kurdish groups. He said Stockholm and Helsinki should not bother sending diplomatic missions to change their minds.
Experts warn that Erdogan’s hardening stance is likely to raise concerns in Washington about the Turkish president’s close relationship with Putin. In addition, Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile system led to Washington imposing military sanctions on Ankara.
Soli Ozel, an international relations expert at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, said one of Cavusoglu’s goals – to convince Washington to allow the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey – is likely to be complicated by renewed questions about Erdogan’s ultimate loyalty.
“There will be voices that raise this question,” Ozel said. “I’m afraid it could also lead to a much more negative attitude towards selling the F-16s and the equipment to upgrade existing F-16s in the US Congress. In that sense, I do not think such a public measure is advisable. “
Russian media reported on Tuesday that Putin planned to visit Turkey in the next few days, a report that has not been confirmed by Ankara but is likely to increase unrest among Turkey’s Western allies, including Washington. Aaron Stein, head of the Pennsylvania Foreign Policy Research Institute, said Washington’s attitudes toward Turkey were likely to take root.
“It is more or less strengthened that Ankara should look after its own interests,” said Stein. “Then some say it’s time to sell them F-16s and others point out that we need to make compromises regarding the S-400. But things happen and it is possible to pull rabbits out of the hat. But this one has proven to be particularly sticky with the S-400 and F-16.
Experts also expect Cavusoglu to emphasize the importance of restoring closer relations between the country’s two presidents. How such requests are handled may depend on Washington’s approach and whether US officials decide to face up to or accept Erdogan’s veto threats against Sweden and Finland.
Turkish Foreign Minister faces difficult questions in Washington
Source link Turkish Foreign Minister faces difficult questions in Washington