Biden invites 110 participants to Summit for Democracy, snubs Turkey


US President Joe Biden has invited 110 participants to a virtual Summit for Democracy in December, including major Western allies but not Turkey, according to a list posted on the State Department website on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

China, the United States’ principal rival, is not invited, while Taiwan is — a move that risks angering Beijing. Turkey, which like America is a member of NATO, is also missing from the list of participants.

Among the countries of the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq will take part in the online conference, scheduled for December 9-10.

Traditional Arab allies of the US — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are not invited.

Biden invited Brazil even though its far right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has been for an authoritarian bent and was a firm supporter of Donald Trump.

In Europe, Poland was invited to the summit despite persistent tension with the European Union over its human rights record. Hungary, led by hardline nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was not invited.

In Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among the countries on the list.

In announcing the summit back in August, the White House said the meeting would “galvanize commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.”

The Summit for Democracy will bring together leaders from government, civil society and the private sector to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.

An international alliance to promote Internet freedom, called “The Alliance for the Future of the Internet,” is one of the initiatives the Biden team is considering launching during the summit, according to documents obtained by Politico earlier this month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who met with Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome on October 31, said in September he felt that relations with Biden had “not gotten off to a good start” since the latter’s arrival in the White House.

Biden has made a point of highlighting Turkey’s deteriorating record on human rights — an issue that was largely overlooked by his predecessor Donald Trump.

It took him three full months after his inauguration to place his first call to Erdoğan.

That was to inform him that Washington was recognizing the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Relations between the US and Turkey, two NATO allies, took a nosedive after Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system that the US believes can be used to spy on Western defenses. Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey’s military procurement agency for the purchase last year. It also expelled Turkey from the F-35 program under which Western allies produce the next-generation fighter jet’s parts and secure its early purchasing rights.

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