WASHINGTON - US Vice President Joe Biden urged Turkey's government on Tuesday to respect the rights of its political opponents after a violent crackdown against anti-government protesters raised concerns about the NATO ally.
Biden, speaking to the American-Turkish Council, said Turkey stands a chance to reach its goal of becoming one of the world's 10 largest economies by 2023 but that it should not stray from democracy.
"Turkey's future belongs to the people of Turkey and no one else. But the United States does not pretend to be indifferent to the outcome," Biden said.
Countries with open societies, political systems and economies, democratic institutions and a firm commitment to universal human rights are the countries that will thrive and be the most powerful countries of the 21st century, he said.
"Today's Turkey has a chance to demonstrate that there's no need to choose between economic advancement and democracy, the system that empowers the winners of elections and yet protects those who are in the opposition," said Biden.