US President Biden’s decision to call the events of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire a “genocide” has caused great upheaval in Turkish public opinion and opened the next chapter in Turkish-US crises.
United World International expert Onur Sinan Güzaltan spoke to Iranian Tehran Times on the recent crisis, US’ reasons for the genocide statement and Turkey’s strategic path out of imperlialist pressure.
Below we document the interview, conducted by Mohammad Ali Saki, as printed in the Tehran Times on May 15th, 2021. Subheadings were set by UWI. The Tehran Times publication can be read here.
“It is necessary not only for Turkey but also for all the powers in the region, to understand and analyze this situation, and act as a unified bloc against the United States in the regional crises,” Onur Sinan Guzaltan tells the Tehran Times.
Many political observers expect Turkey-U.S. relations to deteriorate under the Biden presidency and Ankara is approaching Russia and China more than in the past. “The politic, security, and economic needs of Turkey force Ankara to deepen ties with its neighbors in West Asia, particularly with Russia and Iran,” Sinan notes.
Despite the power shift in the White House, it seems that the efforts to restore the relations between the United States and Turkey will remain fruitless. The efforts to restore the relations with the United States would be hopeless on their own, despite political differences between the Trump and Biden administrations. Turkish politicians talk about an important shift towards Asian powers, including Russia, China and Iran, rather than the Western allies.
“As the developments of the last century show us, it is clear imperialism is not negotiable,” the Turkish attorney adds.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: How do you see Biden’s decision in recognizing the Armenian massacre?
A: Although the statements from President Joe Biden regarding the recognition of the so-called Armenian Genocide seem to be given in the name of human rights and historical facts, it was actually a political statement.
The U.S. administration has gained another front against Turkey with this statement in history alongside other fronts in political, economic, and military fronts. The aim behind Biden’s statements is to smear the Republic of Turkey and the foundations of the Kemalist Revolution with the genocide rhetoric.
“More concrete steps of Turkey away from the Atlantic Alliance expected”
It can also be expected that Turkey would take more concrete steps away from the Atlantic alliance in the coming period, especially leaving the NATO alliance. Biden’s statements have neither any legal nor any historical significance. Genocide is a legal concept and, as it can be seen from the Perincek vs. Switzerland decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), it is not possible to define the mutual atrocities between the Turks and the Armenians in the year 1915, as a “Genocide” in the legal sense.
And when we also inspect from a historical point of view, it will be seen that what happened between the Armenians and the Turks that were provoked by the imperialist forces of that time period against the Ottoman Empire was a state of war.
In short, the statements of President Biden are just a part of the American policies against Turkey, which are containment, encirclement, deterioration, and forced to surrender. There is no difference between the American embargo against Iran and the so-called genocide statements from Biden, which are both tools of American aggression policies towards West Asia.
Q: Do you predict U.S.-Turkey relations to deteriorate during the Biden presidency?
The Turkish-American relations are now in an irreversible era of collapse.
No matter which administration swears in office in Turkey or in the United States, there is no way to maintain the same strategic partnership relations between Turkey and the United States that were in the past. Under the collapse of the Turkish-American relations lies the reason for the global regression of the United States. And as a result of this collapse in relations, Turkey has turned back to West Asian and Asian countries.
We cannot turn back time, so it is not impossible to expect a normalization of Turkish-American relations. Today, it is not possible to expect the AKP government or any other successor government in Turkey, to turn back to the Atlantic axis.
“Efforts to restore relations with US are hopeless”
Turkey’s political, security, and economic needs forces Ankara to deepen ties with its neighbors in West Asia, particularly with Russia and Iran. The efforts to restore the relations with the United States would be hopeless on its own, despite political differences between the Trump and Biden administrations.
It is necessary not only for Turkey but also for all the powers in the region to understand and to analyze this situation and act as a unified bloc against the United States in the regional crises. As the developments of the last century show us, it is clear imperialism is not negotiable.
There is no point in hitting the same wall again.
Q: Is Turkey going to consolidate its ties with Russia and China to confront the U.S.?
A: In the face of these economic, political, military and cultural pressures from the United States, rulers of Turkey have no way out but to turn towards Asia. The polarization of the world does not leave any room for the rulers of Turkey to maintain their “balance of power” policies between the Atlantic and the Asian powers.
Clashes between the United States and Russia/China are deepening each day. It can also be expected that Turkey would take more concrete steps away from the Atlantic alliance in the coming period, especially leaving the NATO alliance.
This situation is more of a result of the necessities created by the global clashes rather than the subjective political choices of the Erdogan government. Turkey is developing its relations with Russia and moving it to different areas, such as the S-400 air defense systems. On the other hand, our relations with our neighbor Iran are progressing in a very positive direction.
The Astana format, which was established to solve crises in Syria, had successful outcomes and the situation in the region is slowly easing down. China is also strengthening its ties with West Asia, with caution but with very decisive steps.
The five-point West Asian initiative announced by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is noteworthy and is the first signs of the Beijing leadership taking an active involvement with the region’s issues. As West Asian and Asian countries, we must develop a holistic approach to our problems. We can only move forward by uniting and not by fighting.
“A model similar to the European Union can be implemented in West Asia”
There is no reason why a model similar to the European Union should not be implemented in West Asia. Turkey and Iran can act as the catalyst for such a model. We have a wide field of action from the Caucasus to North Africa and all the way to Pakistan. If we try to see this geography through the perspective of cooperation, instead of a perspective of conflict, we can change the course of history.
And in a broader perspective, the common interests of West Asia, Russia and China can be considered together.
Q: What is your comment on the joint meeting between Israel, Cyprus, the Emirates and Greece? Do you consider it a threat to Turkey?
A: There is an anti-Turkish front in the Eastern Mediterranean. On the frontlines of this alliance, the European Union is involved through the governments of Southern Cyprus and Greece, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
And the great power behind the project is the United States. Although they also wanted to take Egypt to this front, such efforts will be thwarted by Turkey’s recent diplomatic efforts. This front against Turkey is also the same front against Iran, Russia, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.
“Supporting Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean will benefit Russia and Iran”
If Russia and Iran take a stance in favor of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean crisis it will benefit Turkey and themselves. It is not only Turkey that is tried to be contained around the Eastern Mediterranean, but also West Asia and even the whole Asian continent.
The Eastern Mediterranean does not only consist of the Eastern Mediterranean. When you examine this clash carefully; you will see that the Atlantic is trying to block the routes of Asia that open to the world. The regional powers must analyze the situation correctly.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) struggles against European/American imperialism; the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist Israel is also common struggle.
Q: What are the repercussions of the pandemic on Turkey’s economy?
A: The government in Turkey is trying to shift away from the Atlantic politically, but the social classes and the ideological foundations on which the government is founded upon prevent it from giving the same struggle in the area of the economy.
The economic breakdown caused by the pandemic has further weakened Turkey’s already fragile economic situation. Turkey has two options at hand; it will either maintain the West-centered economic order based on capital flow –in which case there is no way to continue the political fight against the West–, or it will seek a new manufacturing-oriented economic model with revolutionary steps.
The process moves quickly. A period is coming that makes definite choices are expected not only from Turkey but also from all the region’s countries. We are in a time period where those who have their own national economic model and who deepen their cooperation with their neighbors will eventually win.