Turkish president Erdogan congratulates Biden on election win, the latest Trump ally abroad to abandon him

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday for his 2020 election victory.
  • Turkey will stick to its "determination to work closely with the U.S. Administration" in the coming period, Erdogan said in his message, per Reuters.
  • Erdogan shared his congratulatory remarks after remaining silent on Biden's announced win for days.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extended his congratulations on Tuesday to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their 2020 election victory.

Turkey will stick to its "determination to work closely with the U.S. Administration" in the coming period, Erdogan said in his messsage, adding that "the strong cooperation and alliance" between the NATO allies would continue to contribute to world peace, according to Reuters. 

Erdogan, who is widely considered to be an authoritarian leader, now joins a chorus of congratulatory remarks from world leaders on the election results, after remaining silent on Biden's announced win for days. Still, other strongman heads of state continue to stay quiet on the matter, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Leader Xi Jinping. 

President Donald Trump and Erdogan are widely viewed as close allies. Trump has referred to Erdogan as a "friend" and "a hell of a leader" and critics in Washington have often accused the US president of behaving in a subservient manner to his Turkish counterpart. Foreign policy experts often warned that Trump's bellicose rhetoric and frequent praise of autocrats emboldened leaders like Erdogan.

Trump was the target of bipartisan ire in October 2019 after he pulled US troops from northeastern Syria and paved the way for a Turkish incursion in the region that targeted US-allied Kurdish forces. The Kurds had borne the brunt of the ground war against ISIS. 

Though he was not initially viewed as an autocrat when he first came to power in 2003, Erdogan in recent years has consolidated power in major ways following a failed coup in 2016 and a constitutional referendum in 2017. The Turkish president has been decried by human rights organizations over his attacks on civil liberties. Erdogan has moved to crush virtually any form of dissent, restricting freedom of expression and jailing thousands of people without trial.  

On the campaign trail, Biden indicated that current relations with Turkey would alter if he was elected. Last year he told the New York Times that he was very "concerned" and would like to see opposition leadership defeat Erdogan. 

Biden also called Erdogan an "autocrat," prompting pushback from the Turkish government. For Erdogan to congratulate Biden in spite of these tensions is significant, and indicative of how important the US-Turkey relationship is. It's also a reminder that world leaders overwhelmingly view Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 election in the face of Trump's baseless allegations of mass voter fraud and refusal to concede. 

Turkey is NATO ally, but has presented a challenge to the historic partnership in recent years — particularly after the Turkish incursion into Syria and more recently in relation to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Though Erdogan has congratulated Biden, the Turkish leader could continue to pose major problems for the president-elect once he's sworn into office. 

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