Weeks before U.S. President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Erdogan vowed that the meeting would be transformative. In a virtual gathering with American investors last month, he predicted that the encounter would “herald a new era.” It was no surprise, then, that after the Monday meeting in Brussels concluded, Erdogan took pains to stretch the truth and describe it as a major success.
Whatever happened to the provocateur, the pugnacious politician whose words and actions so frequently put him at odds with his neighbors and his allies? Where did that Erdogan go?
The conciliatory figure is mostly on display for foreign audiences. At home, the authoritarian Erdogan, determined to hold onto power, has shown no sign of easing his grip. In fact, the campaign to improve relations with the West is aimed squarely at strengthening his hand at home.