When President Joe Biden meets his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, the two leaders will be looking to repair a long alliance as pressure from China and Russia looms over Europe.
And they’ll be doing it despite a history of insults, political threats, economic sanctions, obstruction and canceled fighter jet contracts. Biden, who arrives in Brussels this week with the wind of a domestic economic recovery at his back but facing a Europe wary of Washington’s commitment, has plenty of leverage to play in the meeting.
The Turkish leader is working through the toughest stretch of his long presidency, overseeing a faltering economy while watching a surging opposition movement take root at home, and looks to turn the page with a new Democratic administration.
For the past four years, Turkey’s often problematic role within NATO has been overshadowed by former President Donald Trump’s demands over NATO spending, “but now, given Biden’s strong commitment to transatlantic cooperation, suddenly Erdogan’s spoiler role in the alliance has become more visible and is playing for center stage,” said Aykan Erdemir, a former Turkish parliamentarian who runs the Turkey Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.