In the Democracy Summit, is the goal democracy or strategy?

The U.S. President Joe Biden will hold the “World Democracy Summit” he promised in his election campaign on the 9-10 of December. Invitations have begun to be sent out, and information leaked to the American press indicates that Turkey is not on the “guest list.”

Turkey is experiencing a very difficult era in terms of its place in the world. Tensions with the US, which began with the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system, escalated when US President Joe Biden officially acknowledged the Armenian Genocide.

The US imposed CAATSA sanctions on Turkey, and the European Union has put the country on its sanctions list for its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

With Russia, Syria and Idlib are the main issues. However, the Russian-Turkish conflict in Syria is not limited to this. Though Ankara publicly accuses the US of supporting the PYD -YPG in northern Syria, which Turkey considers to be an extension of the PKK, they do not mention Russia. In fact, Russia is in cooperation with the same entities.

Relations with Moscow have now been overshadowed by the sale of Turkish SIHAs to Ukraine. Let’s not forget that what happens in Ukraine is seen by Russia as “vitally important.”

With a government that aimed to have “zero problems” with its neighbors, now there are few neighbors left (excluding Azerbaijan) with which Turkey has no issue. Even though China is far away, the Uyghur issue, ignored by Turkey for a long time, has come center stage in relations. When Ankara became a signatory to the UN declaration drawing attention to China’s atrocities in the Xinjiang region, China reacted harshly. The Chinese authorities have begun describing Turkey as an “invader” in Syria and are calling for Turkish soldiers to be withdrawn.


In addition to all of this, there is the issue of “invitations that did not come” from the US. US President Joe Biden will hold the “World Democracy Summit” on December 9-10. With invitations having begun to be sent, information leaked to the US press indicates Turkey is not on the “guest list.”

107 countries are invited to the summit. Two countries that are part of the NATO alliance are not invited: Turkey and Hungary. There aren’t many guests from the Middle East, where Turkey is active. The only two countries in the region that received invitations were Israel and Iraq.

Invitations were sent to most of Turkey’s neighbors: Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Armenia. There are no invitations for Azerbaijan, Iran, and Syria (as expected).

When we look at the top 3 agenda items for the summit – fighting corruption, opposing authoritarianism, and strengthening human rights – we see how irritating it is that Turkey was not invited.


To make matters worse, few in the international arena were surprised that Turkey was not invited.

What is surprising, however, is that India under Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Modi, who is inching away from democracy, and the Philippines, which brutalizes the press, were invited to the summit.

These invitations are explained away with the “strategic priorities” of the US. Within the scope of containing China, the Washington administration sees no issue with undeservedly promoting these countries to the “democracy premier league,” in order to expand the alliance in the Asia-Pacific region.

We can say, then, that Turkey is not seen as geopolitically valuable to Washington.


The subject of the invitation is at the top of Turkey’s domestic agenda. It’s possible that ruling politicians will shift messaging to make this summit sound unimportant, or to even make it sound like a good thing that they were not invited.

Is it really a trivial issue that Turkey was not invited to the summit? No matter how the Turkish public sees the situation, Ankara’s absence will reinforce the idea that Turkey is a second-tier country in the field of democracy. This could also threaten the flow of FDI to Turkey, a country already in the midst of an economic crisis.


The AK Party is likely aware that they did not make the leaked guest list, but have remained silent on the matter. This is likely an indication that they see it as a “draft” and will try and find a way to attend the summit.

Behind closed doors, diplomats say that Ankara might take a step towards resolving the Osman Kavala situation.

Kavala’s next hearing is at the end of November. Let’s see what happens.

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