Turkey condemns Joe Biden's criticism of 'autocrat' President Erdogan

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey on Sunday (Aug 16) condemned remarks made by US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticising President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calling for support for the Turkish leader’s opponents.

Mr Biden made the comments in an interview filmed by the New York Times in December but a video of the remarks only appeared on Saturday before going viral on social media.

Asked about Mr Erdogan, Mr Biden described the Turkish President as an “autocrat”, criticised his policy towards the Kurds and advocated supporting the Turkish opposition.

“What I think we should be doing is taking a very different approach to him now, making it clear that we support opposition leadership,” Mr Biden said.

He said it was necessary to “embolden” Mr Erdogan’s rivals to allow them “to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process”.

The comments did not provoke much reaction when they were published in the New York Times in January, but the video of the interview triggered an angry response from Turkey.

“The analysis of Turkey by @JoeBiden is based on pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy,” Mr Erdogan’s spokesman, Mr Ibrahim Kalin, tweeted.

“The days of ordering Turkey around are over. But if you still think you can try, be our guest. You will pay the price,” he added.

Mr Biden’s statements also embarrassed Mr Erdogan’s opponents, whom the Turkish government regularly accuses of being in the pay of foreign powers.

Several officials of the main opposition CHP party quickly distanced themselves from Mr Biden’s remarks, calling for “respect for the sovereignty of Turkey”.

Some Biden critics also expect a possible deterioration in already testy relations between Ankara and Washington if he manages to defeat President Donald Trump in the US presidential election in November.

Mr Erdogan, who in recent years has worked to cultivate a personal relationship with Mr Trump, often lashes out at his predecessor, Mr Barack Obama.

Mr Biden was Mr Obama’s vice-president.

Relations between Ankara and Washington were strained during Mr Obama’s second term, particularly to disagreements over Syria and growing international criticism over freedoms and rights in Turkey.

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