Biden’s recognition of Armenian genocide ‘complicates communication,’ says Ankara

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said that U.S. President Joe Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide complicated  communication between Ankara and Washington on issues, state-run news outlet Anadolu Agency reported on Sunday.

Oktay made an appearance on state-run TRT World station to discuss Turkish foreign policy when he said Biden’s choice added “extra complexity to a relationship with difficulties”. He made clear his belief that Biden made the decision to assert the United States on the world stage. 

"I guess, he's trying to use such a phenomenon as a tool to come back to one part of the world. And I strongly believe that these two reasons are totally the wrong start for him and for US foreign policy," Oktay told TRT World.

Oktay went on to talk about familiar Turkish disagreements with Washington on areas like Syria and the case of exiled U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government accuses of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt.

On Syria, Oktay simply repeated that U.S support for the Syrian Kurdish militias was a “real problem.” Ankara has launched three military campaigns in the last five years into northern Syria, something that has put it at odds with Washington which accuses it of undermining the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). 

Turkey accuses the U.S of supporting terrorism against it by supporting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that make up the bulk of forces in northeast Syria. These groups are connected to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a terrorist group that has waged an armed insurgency against Turkey since 1984. 

The Turkish vice president also criticised the United States for not extraditing Gülen, adding that "the U.S is not doing anything about it.” 

Gulen has lived in the United States since 1997 and Turkey has demanded the U.S extradite the preacher, but it has refused on the grounds that no evidence has been presented to do so. 

Oktay however did express some optimism about the upcoming meeting between Erdogan and Biden in June. 

"They're going to be meeting during the NATO Summit in June. So hopefully that will be a new beginning," he said.

The two presidents agreed to meet in their first phone call on April 23 in which Biden provided Erdogan a heads-up that he would be recognising the Armenian genocide the next day. Oktay said that the shared problems in the relationship can be handled one by one to improve ties.

“Let's form the related committees work on them technically and look into a brighter future. And then work on the potentials between the two countries,” Oktay continued.