Turkey and the United States are bound together by history and common values. Turkey is an important U.S. security partner and has been a valued NATO ally since 1952.
Turkey is a leader in NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and serves as the alliance's vital anchor, controlling the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, linking the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
In terms of many global challenges and conflicts, such as the war in Syria and Libya, the disagreements in the Eastern Mediterranean, the migration crisis and the relations of the West with Russia, Iran and others, Turkey stands as a key actor. The U.S. elections were consequential for all of these issues.
Turkey is one of the few modern states and societies that have inherited from their history – and sustained through the modern era's existential tests – a "great power" outlook on their regional and world interests.
Since at least the administration of former President George W. Bush and the aftermath of the Gulf War, Americans have been debating and reconsidering U.S. global interests and how best to pursue them.
The vital national interests that Turks and Americans will continue to find in common, beyond debate, are their national security and prosperity.
Certainly, relevant cultural and political values also are important to Americans and Europeans.
Most politically astute Americans and Turks would agree that, as one of the world's and the region's leading influential economic, military and cultural powers, Turkey has evident and important common interests with the U.S. and both should have a natural complementarity of capabilities to pursue them.
The redirection of U.S. policy also will require President-elect Joe Biden to carefully bring Turkey back into the West's embrace and avoid pushing it nearer to Russia.
The U.S. Congress approved economic sanctions on Turkey in December for buying the Russian S-400 missile defense systems, a deal it says could potentially expose NATO military technology to Moscow. U.S. President Donald Trump had stalled the sanctions last year after the defense systems were delivered to Turkey.
At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers weeks earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Turkey on several fronts. Pompeo's statements against Turkey's defense purchases and its hydrocarbon explorations in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean showed that he has given up trying to temper rising tensions among European allies and American lawmakers.
The new U.S administration has made clear that it will engage with Turkey through traditional and technical diplomatic channels – and not rely on the kind of ad-hoc communication that marked the relationship between Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
It is important to remember that the two biggest risks to the U.S. are China and Russia; winning Turkey back from Russia would be a huge success for Biden.
It remains to be seen whether a new, more multilateral approach of the U.S. will improve the strained relations with the European Union, bring about a less confrontational stance within NATO and entice Turkey back into the fold of the Western alliance.
It also depends on whether and to what degree the new U.S. administration will modulate the previous administration's position toward Russia, marked by haphazard appeasement, and return to the previous, clear position.
*Former minister of EU Affairs in Poland, member of the European Parliament
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