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Turkey missing again in participant list of Biden’s Summit for Democracy

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Turkey has again been left off the list of invitees to an online summit that will be hosted by US President Joe Biden March 29-30, Voice of America Turkish service reported.

The first online summit was hosted by Biden in December 2021, when Turkey was again not on the list of participant countries.

This year’s summit will be jointly co-hosted by Biden and the leaders of South Korea, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Zambia.

The five leaders will each host a plenary session on topics that include global challenges, justice for all and strong institutions.

Robert Berschinski, senior director for democracy and human rights for the White House National Security Council, released the summit schedule on Wednesday, saying new proposals on advancing democracy and human rights would be announced during the meeting.

Berschinski said the summit would bring together government officials and activists from 120 countries, adding that eight more nations — Bosnia Herzegovina, Lichtenstein, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania and Honduras — have been invited to this year’s meeting.

Berschinski confirmed to VOA that Turkey has not been invited but gave no reason for the lack of an invitation to the country. He said Turkey continues to be an important NATO ally and partner for the US, adding that the US administration has been very clear in its assessment of the situation of democracy and the human rights in the country.

The US State Department recently drew attention to the widespread human rights violations in Turkey in its 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices with a subsection on Turkey in which it details human rights violations in the country

The report listed credible reports of arbitrary killings; suspicious deaths of persons in custody; forced disappearances; torture; arbitrary arrest and continued detention of tens of thousands of persons, including opposition politicians and former members of parliament, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and an employee of the US Mission, for purported ties to “terrorist” groups or peaceful legitimate speech; and political prisoners, including elected officials, as being among the significant human rights issues in the country.

Biden has also 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 Turkish President Recep Tayyip 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 in 2020. It also expelled Turkey from the F-35 program under which Western allies produce the next-generation fighter jet’s parts and secure early purchasing rights.

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