In recent months, Erdogan has adopted a markedly different tone towards the US, expressing his interest in improving relations with his former ally. This shift is driven by global and regional changes that have put Ankara between a rock and a hard place: isolated from Europe and many Arab states, it faces a potentially hostile White House, while its economy continues to be shaken by the pandemic. Opening a new chapter with the US could restore Western confidence and re-establish a fruitful military relationship with NATO.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he hoped an upcoming meeting with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, would usher in a "new era" in relations between Ankara and Washington, strained since 2016. "I am convinced that our meeting with Biden at the NATO summit (on June 14) will herald a new era," Erdogan said in a video conference meeting with US business leaders. "We value our alliance with the United States," he insisted.
Despite his country's growing diplomatic isolation and severe economic difficulties, Erdogan has sought to smooth relations with the United States and the European Union in the hope of attracting investors. The Turkish president reiterated to US business leaders the goal of increasing the volume of trade between Turkey and the US to $100 billion, stressing the importance of advancing "common interests".
Ankara also has to deal with its arms dependence on the US, which has already caused it problems as it has been expelled from the F-35 consortium and Washington has cancelled the planned sale of the aircraft. This has come about precisely because of Turkey's attempt to diversify its military suppliers and acquire the services of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defence system, something that has caused great concern in the United States.
Tensions between Washington and Ankara have led to the latter's formal exit from the arms programme. However, this has not been the only point of friction between the two. Prior to Joe Biden's arrival at the White House, Erdogan sought to temper diplomatic relations with the US after the constant confrontation with Trump. Although the latest conversation between the Democrat and the leader of Turkey was to confirm formal recognition of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the regime that preceded the current Turkish Republic, something that undoubtedly further strained ties between Washington and Ankara.
Once strategic partners, US-Turkey ties have deteriorated due to major foreign policy differences. Washington and Ankara hold divergent views on Syria, on cooperation with Russia and, finally, on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. On this last point, the US views Turkish naval interventions as destabilising.
It is now, despite this cooling of relations, that attempts are being made to resume them by maintaining low-profile meetings between the two countries, which are now seeking to raise their profile. In this latest meeting, the possibility of having diplomatic representation in both countries again was considered, something that would bring Ankara and Washington closer together.
In this scenario of uncertainty, it is possible that tensions will continue to rise and that the geopolitical map will change completely in just a few months' time. Both Turkey and the US are determined to defend their interests, even if this means turning the agreements signed in recent years into a dead letter.