ISTANBUL • Turkey yesterday condemned United States Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calls for support for the Turkish leader’s rivals.
Mr Biden made the remarks in an interview with The New York Times in December but a video of it appeared only on Saturday before going viral online.
Asked about Mr Erdogan, Mr Biden described him as an “autocrat” and advocated supporting the Turkish opposition.
“We should be… taking a very different approach to him now, making it clear that we support opposition leadership,” Mr Biden said, adding that it was necessary to “embolden” Mr Erdogan’s opponents to allow them to “defeat Erdogan”.
The video triggered an angry response from Turkey.
Mr Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted: “The analysis of Turkey by @JoeBiden is based on pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy.”
Mr Biden’s remarks also embarrassed Mr Erdogan’s rivals, whom the Turkish government regularly accuses of being in the pay of foreign powers. Officials from the main opposition Republican People’s Party distanced themselves from Mr Biden’s statements, calling for “respect for the sovereignty of Turkey”.
Mr Biden’s critics expect a deterioration in already testy ties between Turkey and the US if he defeats President Donald Trump in the election in November.
Mr Erdogan has often lashed out at former president Barack Obama. Mr Biden was Mr Obama’s vice-president.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Mr Erdogan said Turkey would not back down to threats of sanctions nor to incursions on its claimed territory in the Mediterranean Sea, where it is in a stand-off with European Union member Greece over oil and gas exploration rights.
EU foreign ministers on Friday said Ankara’s actions were antagonistic, dangerous and would lead to a “heightened risk of dangerous incidents”.
Tensions between Greece and Turkey have risen over the past week after Ankara sent a survey vessel, escorted by warships, to map out possible oil and gas drilling in territory over which both countries claim jurisdiction.
Mr Erdogan said: “We will never bow to banditry on our continental shelf. We will not back down against the language of sanctions and threats.” He added that the vessel, known as the Oruc Reis, will continue work until Aug 23.
Last Wednesday, warships from the two sides were involved in a mild collision.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS