While it looks like President Joe Biden’s recent interactions with Queen Elizabeth II have been enough to send the news cycle into a bona fide frenzy at the 2021 G7 Summit in London, it seems the media now has another possible gaffe to zero in on: Biden’s interactions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who Biden is scheduled to have a long sit-down with at the 2021 NATO Summit on June 14. Biden, who arrived in Brussels, Belgium on the same day the conference is set to begin, reportedly greeted the notorious Turkish leader hours before the summit’s kickoff.
But while a greeting between leaders isn’t necessarily headline-worthy — even despite the fact that Erdogan, who has been in power since 2003, has been accused of war crimes, and has had a contentious relationship with the U.S. over the past few years — this one supposedly is. The reason? According to media outlets like The New York Post, the coverage has to do with the nature of Biden’s greeting: a fist bump. So what’s the story behind it all? Keep on scrolling to find out more.
Joe Biden's fist-bump with Erdogan is causing a stir
Though the optics of the fist-bump might have appeared strange to the untrained eye, it seems that the reasoning behind it could have something to do with the ongoing coronavirus. Though President Joe Biden himself was vaccinated early on in 2021 after the rollout for the medicinal prophylactic began (as was Recep Tayyip Erdogan, per the Associated Press), the U.S. commander-in-chief wore a mask, while Erdogan did not, per the Independent. Though its speculation at best, the fist-bump — which purportedly rose in popularity as a greeting in 2020 due to the possibility that the more traditional handshake could spread the virus, and with Biden himself employing it more frequently that same year — could have been a second-nature gesture for the president due to the disease.
But the other part of why the fist-bump appeared off-kilter, per The New York Post, had to do with Biden’s earlier declaration of the U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide, in which approximately 1.5 million Armenians were murdered systematically between 1915 and 1923 under the direction of the Ottoman Empire, now modern-day Turkey. Erdogan expressed his extreme displeasure with the recognition prior to the NATO meeting. “An ally country taking such a stance on an issue that has nothing to do with NATO, the issue of Armenians, has disturbed and upset us,” Erdogan said before the NATO summit, according to the Post.
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