Should We Be Celebrating Erdogan’s Leadership? / Ambassador Michael Sahlin

Jul 7, 2022

What President Biden calls leadership Michael Sahlin, a former Swedish diplomat with deep experience in Turkey thinks is more like a cat landing on its feet after falling out a window.


At the recent NATO summit in Madrid, US President Joe Biden made a joint appearance with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Speaking of Erdogan’s supposed agreement to accept Sweden and Finland in NATO and to find a solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Biden said, “I want to particularly thank you for what you did putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden, and all the incredible work you’re doing to try to get the grain out of Ukraine and Russia. I mean, you’re doing a great job….it’s in large part because of your leadership. Thank you. I really mean it.”

Leadership? Really?

Just a few months ago, Erdogan was isolated and largely ignored. He was on Biden’s no-call list. He had almost hostile relations with most of his neighbors, was being denied new western weapons systems, seemed close to armed conflict with Greece, and had unilaterally sent troops into Libya and Syria. Moreover, his economic mismanagement has produced domestic inflation of 75%, a currency in free fall, and an economy in tatters. Along the way, Erdogan has abused his political opposition, suppressed domestic liberties, squeezed migrants, and attacked Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere.

What Biden calls leadership, Michael Sahlin, former Swedish diplomat with deep experience in Turkey, thinks is more like a cat landing on its feet after falling out a window. What do you think? Listen as Sahlin discusses Erdogan’s amazing resilience—but without resorting to the “L word.”


Listen to the episode here or find the New Thininkg for a New World podcast platform of your choice (Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google podcast, Youtube, etc).

ABOUT OUR GUEST Ambassador Michael Sahlin is a Distinguished Associate Fellow with the SIPRI European Security Programme and Coordinator of SIPRI’s Security Conference on Secure Cities in an Insecure World. Michael has held many roles in the political and diplomatic arena. As a Swedish diplomat, he was among others the Ambassador to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Spain, former Yugoslavia/Macedonia, Norway and various assignments at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was State Secretary in the Defence Ministry. In addition, he has also been the Swedish Special Envoy for Sudan/CPA. Dr. Michael Sahlin was the founder and first Director-General of the Folke Bernadotte Academy.


  1. Adeniji Ayodeji Abiodun

    What Biden calls leadership, Michael Sahlin, former Swedish diplomat with deep experience in Turkey, thinks is more like a cat landing on its feet after falling out a window.
    It is a great thing to impact ones generation as a leader, Endogan has really made a great impact and a foot steps to follow. We should emulate him

    • Akinrinade Morakinyo

      Well done to tallberg foundation team for doing a great job and taking interest to steer the conversation on new thinking of new solutions to solve avoidable human problems happening in most parts of the world now especially the Russian and Ukrainian war
      To me Erdogan is trying to proffer solutions to the crises with his pronouncements made during the NATO summit in Spain as President Joe Biden commended him for his assurances to mediate between the two countries
      However, to me this is coming rather too late after much devastation of Ukraine had been done
      Thousands of people have been killed from both warring sides including soldiers and civilians comprising of women and children
      It is very very sad and considering the initial posture and actions of president of Turkey in supplying arms to Ukraine against Russia coupled with his actions in Syria,Libya and others others it is difficult to determine whether his latest position and efforts trying to mediate for peace between the warring factions is going to bring any good results
      This is why I believe ambassador micheal sahlin a former Diplomat to Sweden and a distinguished Security Scholar described President Erdogan’s new efforts in leadership as”as a cat Landing on it’s feet after falling out of a window”
      I therefore doubt if his pronouncements at this time could really make much impact to stop the war
      What the situation requires now is immediate proactive and pragmatic approach to solving the crises to drop down the war.approach to this should be more of persuasion and appeals to the two leaders on this and not playing any hide and seek games.


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