The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations panel Thursday called on the Biden administration to “reorient” US ties with Turkey as a result of Ankara’s “bellicose” actions.
“In Turkey, President Erdogan got a free pass from the previous administration, and we are seeing the effects,” Senator Bob Menendez said during his opening remarks at a committee hearing.
Menendez criticized the Trump administration without naming it for taking a soft stance on Turkey after the NATO member purchased a Russian-made missile defense system and its participation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Citing its military interference in Syria and “bellicose actions against Greece and Cyprus, long considered a NATO ally, Turkey seems to want to break with us,” the US senator said. “We have to begin to reorient ourselves in the eastern Mediterranean towards democracies that share our values and our security interests,” Menendez added.
.@SenatorMenendez slams Turkey's aggression against Artsakh & Syria; bellicose actions against Greece/Cyprus. "Long considered a NATO ally, Turkey seems to want to break with us rather than be our partner," said Sen. Menendez, urging @JoeBiden to reorient towards democracies. pic.twitter.com/U43ohC39xD— ANCA (@ANCA_DC) April 15, 2021
Turkey has expanded its interference in foreign affairs in recent years to spread to Libya, Iraq, Syria and parts of Lebanon.
It has also flirted with Iran and Russia and attempted to broker peace deals in other countries. But Erdogan’s support for Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, has soured Turkey’s ties with much of the Middle East and Europe.
Last month, the Turkish president jumped to Russian President Vladimir Putin's defense after Biden called the latter a “killer.“
On Thursday, Senator Menendez said the Biden administration had an important opportunity to recalibrate ties with Ankara, “and I hope they cease it.”
Biden has yet to call Erdogan despite being in office for almost three months.