Likely scenarios on Biden-Erdoğan meeting
The most likely scenario for the bilateral meeting between President Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden on June 14 is becoming clear. So let us look at the circumstances in which this meeting will take in place to put in into perspective.
1- This meeting is important but not only in in terms of Turkey-U.S. relations, or the course of Turkish domestic politics and especially the economy. It also important in regional and, to some extent, global politics. Biden, who started his European tour from England on June 10 today, will conclude the tour on June 16 with a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland. According to some commentators, this meeting will be the third turning point between the blocks, after the meeting of Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill in Yalta after the World War in 1945 II and the Reagan-Gorbachev meeting in Reykjavik in 1987.
2- Biden will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, on June 11, before meeting with Putin. The reshaping of the world after the covid-19 pandemic will be discussed at the summit titled “Build Back Better”. He will attend the NATO Summit on June 14 The most important agenda item of the summit is the 2030 plan, which is also about redesigning the future. On the same day, he will meet with Erdoğan. Then will come the U.S.-EU summit and Biden-Putin meeting. In other words, Biden’s meeting with Erdoğan is part of his preparation steps for the Putin meeting.
3- After waiting five months for a response to Erdoğan’s congratulatory, Biden called the Turkish president on April 23 to say that he would recognize the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day the next day. Erdoğan voiced his frustration of not being able to meet with Biden as easily as he did with the previous U.S. Presidents in a TV broadcast on June 1. The first meeting between the two leaders will take place about six months after Biden took office. Erdoğan wants to return from this meeting with a result that he can use in domestic politics.
4- Biden, on the other hand, has expressed to Erdogan as clearly as possible that his relations with the United States will no longer be the same as before, especially in the time of Trump. However, all these show that the meeting is important not only for Turkey but also for the United States. The United States and Europe are uncomfortable with Erdoğan’s rapprochement with Putin and his domestic politics that set a bad example for other countries with the decline of democracy and rights. But he does not want it to move away from the NATO axis to the Russia-China axis. Erdoğan is also aware of this, and it is now assumed that he sees that using this trump card without exaggeration will bring results.
In brief, it is more realistic to expect an outcome that emphasizes continuity despite differences of opinion instead of very sharp results.
The most likely scenario is also about the most realistic expectations. Because:
1- The key issue for the U.S. is Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles. Turkey, for its side, highlights the cooperation of the U.S. with the PKK’s Syrian branch PYD/YPG as the most important issue in mutual relations. The most likely solution would be for Erdoğan’s decision to quit from buying a new batch of S-400 missiles, and not use the current ones except in the case of an actual attack and Biden stopping the U.S. Congress from ruling on further sanctions on Turkey. In the meantime, Turkey may resume the joint efforts with Italy and France for the SAMP-T missiles within the framework of NATO. Under such circumstances, the U.S. administration can calm down the Congress on these issues by saying that Turkey will not pose a danger to Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean.
2- Likewise, it can be expected that the U.S. will carry its cooperation with the YPG, the armed wing of the outlawed PKK, away from Turkey’s borders to the ISIL-al Qaeda regions, somehow involve Turkey in the control process and increase its cooperation against the PKK in Iraq. On the other hand, Turkey’s cooperation with the U.S. to balance Russia presence in western Syria may be a possible solution. The June 4-6 June visit by the United States ambassador to the U.S., a member of the U.S. administration, to Turkey within the framework of “humanitarian aid” is a sign of this.
3- Biden wants Turkey to stay in Afghanistan and use its influence after the U.S. troops withdraw. One aspect of this issue is conducting peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Another aspect is the protection and operation of the Kabul airport, Afghanistan’s sole official link with the outside world. Biden can present this to his own public opinion as “the need for Turkey”.
4- Some certain differences will be expressed in statements by both parties after the meeting. For example, the US side will say that democracy and human rights issues in Turkey were mentioned. However, this is unlikely that these issues will shadow military and economic interests. After Erdoğan’s recent meeting with US company executives, a number of incentives/concessions may be given to U.S. companies, especially in fields such as energy, agriculture and medicine, depending on the outcome of the Biden meeting.
5- Erdoğan’s biggest gain from the Biden meeting would be avoiding a new currency shock if things go as we predicted, which would be a sigh of relief for the troubled Turkish economy. Thus, Erdoğan may gain a position to respond to the opposition’s calls for snap elections. In terms of domestic politics, this would be the biggest benefit for Erdogan.
It is possible that Erdogan will tell the public via the media controlled by his psychological propaganda teams that he played hard on Biden. But a realistic analysis says that the one above is most likely scenario.