GeriGündem Obama's VP pick Biden "distant" to, but knowledgeable of Turkey
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Obama's VP pick Biden "distant" to, but knowledgeable of Turkey

Obama's VP pick Biden "distant" to, but knowledgeable of Turkey
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The senate record of Joe Biden, presidential candidate Barack Obama’s pick for vice president, shows he has been consistently anti-Turkish. Analysts, however, say his vast knowledge of Turkey could be a plus for future ties with a possible Obama leadership.

Biden, a foreign policy guru, has almost constantly voted for or joined initiatives against Turkey's interests during his 35 years in the U.S. Senate.     

But still some analysts suggest that his vast knowledge of Turkey might be an advantage if Ankara is to deal with an Obama administration that may come to power in the wake of the United States' Nov. 4 presidential election, according to the Turkish Daily News (TDN).

Obama, who competes against Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, announced Saturday that he had picked Delaware Sen. Biden, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his running mate.

The choice of Biden, who has served in the Senate since 1972, indicated Obama had put more emphasis on filling that gap in the ticket than on finding someone who would reinforce his message of bringing change to Washington.

Like Obama, Biden is a staunch supporter of the Armenian cause. The two men both back last year's draft resolution in the Senate calling for the United States' official recognition of the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide".

The resolution will probably go nowhere during this session of Congress, but analysts expect a strong effort on this matter from pro-Armenian politicians next year. Obama himself pledged to label the killings as genocide if elected president.

Biden, 65, was close to and influenced by former Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes, who is of ethnic Greek origin, and has adopted an anti-Turkish position on several disputes with Greece and Greek Cypriots.

Over the past 15 years, Biden has also worked against a number of planned U.S. arms transfers to Turkey on grounds of alleged human rights violations and other reasons.

In the latest such case in 2003, he opposed the use of a U.S. Ex-Im Bank loan for the purchase of naval helicopters. Eventually the matter was resolved, but Turkey, when signing a 2005 contract for the U.S. Sikorsky Aircraft for 17 S-70B Seahawk helicopters, opted not to use the loan.

When the United States was in deep trouble in Iraq two years ago, Biden came up with a proposal to divide the war-torn country into three parts along ethnic and sectarian lines under a very loose confederation. Turkey is strongly opposed to the division of Iraq, and the idea was later shelved when ensuing U.S. policies helped improve the situation in Iraq.

"It's a fact that Biden has a consistent record against Turkey in Congress. But it's also a fact that he knows Turkey and Turkey's leaders quite well," one Washington analyst told TDN. "As a result I think it's better to deal with someone with a deep knowledge of Turkey than another person who is ignorant about Turkey."

During a stopover in Turkey following a visit to Afghanistan in February, Biden and fellow Democratic Sen. John Kerry and retiring Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel met with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. In the latest meeting, Biden and several of his committee members met with visiting Foreign Minister Ali Babacan here in June.





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