Turkey on Saturday slammed remarks by the presumptive US Democratic presidential candidate calling for Washington to interfere in domestic Turkish politics.
“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,” Fahrettin Altun, the head of Turkey’s Communications Directorate, wrote on Twitter in English.
“These remarks are not in line with democracy and the nature of Turkish-American relations,” he added.
The current US administration would find these “undiplomatic remarks unseemly of a presidential candidate” in a NATO ally, said Altun, adding that Turkey is not to be made into other countries’ domestic political fodder.
He underlined that US political institutions and the public should “disregard these irresponsible statements,” clearly intended to score domestic political points.
“On top of all this, it’s sad (though not surprising) that the opposition politicians in our country have yet to denounce these remarks that raise questions in the minds of our people and are insulting to the Turkish nation’s democratic will and sovereignty,” said Altun.
Turkey will not allow its democratic politics to be disturbed by such “irresponsible” statements, said Altun.
“Our country will continue our national struggle under the leadership of our President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” he added.
In the remarks – first reported a few hours ago, but apparently made to the New York Times editorial board for a January episode of the FX documentary series The Weekly – Biden calls for the US to try to interfere in Turkish domestic politics, saying it should take sides, and that in the past he, in his role as vice president, had actually done so.
Biden also implied he would involve the US directly into domestic Turkish affairs.
“What I think we should be doing is taking a very different approach to him [Erdogan] now, making it clear that we support opposition leadership,” he said.
He added: “I’m still of the view that if we were to engage more directly like I was doing with them, that 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.”
The last remarks seem to refer to the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization – whose leader lives in the US, despite years of Turkish requests to extradite him – and which martyred 251 people and injured nearly 2,200.
In the US presidential race, Biden is currently leading in most polls, but the Nov. 3 election is still months away.
Turkey to fully protect rights in E.Med, Libya, Aegean
Turkey is also focused on stopping terrorist groups in Syria and northern Iraq, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Rize on the Turkish Black Sea, speaking to the public and local members of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
“We’re conducting the most comprehensive and successful operations in history against terrorist groups,” he said.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched several cross-border operations in both northern Syria and northern Iraq to eliminate the YPG/PKK terrorists there who plan attacks against Turkey and try to set up terror corridors.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the terrorist PKK’s Syrian branch.
“We’re currently focused on achieving the rights and interests of our country in every field at the most advanced level all over the world,” Erdogan said, adding that this is Turkey’s real agenda.
Erdogan underlined that the country is also striving to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic and its fallout, as well as strengthening the Turkish economy.
Turkey has become a source of hope for all oppressed regions, including Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Myanmar’s Rakhine state with its oppressed Rohingya, and Libya, he said.
On Ankara’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Erdogan said Turkey is fully justified in its exploration in terms of both international maritime law and established conventions.
Turkey will continue to defend its rights “using all its means,” he said.
“Turkey will never bow to banditry on its continental shelf, nor will it pull back in the face of sanctions and threats.”
But after declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal “null and void,” Turkey authorized the Oruc Reis energy exploration vessel to continue its activities in an area within the country’s continental shelf.
The ship will continue a two-week mission until Aug. 23 along with the ships Cengiz Han and Ataman.
“We will never hesitate to respond to the slightest harassment of our ship,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey never seeks to stir tension or claim the rights of others.
He stressed that Turkey defends the rights of the nation as well as the Turkish Cypriots.
Erdogan said the only solution to the dispute lies through dialogue and negotiation and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.
Turkey has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.
Turkey’s freedom of religion
Turning to Greece’s mistreatment of the Turkish minority in the country, Erdogan said: “Our expectation is that Greece acts sensibly, not as incited by others, and to put an end to policies akin to state terrorism, especially against our brothers in Western Thrace.”
Greece’s Western Thrace region – in the country’s northeast, near the Turkish border – is home to a substantial, long-established Muslim Turkish minority numbering around 150,000.
Decades of Greek mistreatment of the Turkish minority has been ignored by the EU, even as it violates international treaties, high court rulings, and the bloc’s own rules.
Decrying attacks on Turks’ mosques and schools in Western Thrace, Erdogan said that Turkey, in contrast, spent five years renovating the ancient Orthodox Sumela Monastery in its Black Sea region, which recently restarted mass services.
“We have no problem with anyone over freedom of religion. Everyone in this country can live safely according to their faith,” Erdogan said.