US President Joe Biden will have the opportunity to raise human rights and media freedom issues, along with Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean during a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, next week, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Replying to a question by Committee chair Bob Menendez, about the US response in relation to a series of Turkish activities under Erdogan, Blinken said that he shared the senator’s concerns. He added that they have engaged Turkey directly on these issues, which will be at the top of the agenda when Biden and Erdogan meet.
The Secretary of State called Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean “deeply disturbing”. He expressed satisfaction however after Turkey withdrew its vessels from a maritime area Cyprus considers to be part of its exclusive economic zone, and ceased drilling activities.
At the same time, Blinken expressed serious concerns about human rights and the way journalists are treated in Turkey and said that Biden would raise these issues with his Turkish counterpart. Blinken reiterated that it is in the US interest to keep Turkey “anchored to the West” and aligned on some other critical issues.
Menendez said that “you can’t be anchored to the West and drifting in every other direction further away.” He also noted that Turkey was violating international law, threatening Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone, declares an economic zone that reaches Libya and interferes with Greece’s economic zone, engages in aggression against Armenia through Azerbaijan, and is playing a “nefarious role” in Libya.