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UK news: Turkey’s PM to receive a warm welcome in Britain despite EU criticism | Politics | News

Erdogan, who is seen as something of a tin-pot tyrant given to jailing his political enemies by many European nations such as Holland, is even tipped to meet the Queen during his three-day visit to the UK.

Relations between London and Ankara are by far the warmest in Europe – many EU members openly boycott Turkey.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson praised the country last year expressing the UK’s support for its efforts regarding the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

And Ankara still thanks Britain for the solidarity pledged after the failed coup that took place in July 15, 2016.

This friendship is set to be cemented tomorrow, when Mr Erdogan will arrive to the UK to meet PM Theresa May and even the Queen, according to the Financial Times. 

Mrs May’s spokesman said: “The visit is an opportunity for the UK and Turkey to demonstrate our close bilateral relationship and to have important discussions about issues of shared interest.”

However, Mr Erdogan has been accused of eroding human rights, jailing unfriendly members of the press and of the opposition and ruling his country as a kingdom. Britain has chosen to remain silent in public over these issues.

Whitehall officials believe it would be counterproductive to raise concerns in public while it is much more effective to do it behind closed doors, without risking thriving commercial relations between the countries.

Zoya Meral, a researcher at the British Army’s Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, said: “The British attitude is that, while there are clearly worrying developments in Turkey, engagement is not about an individual. 

“It is about the fact that Turkey is too big to walk away from.”

Trade between Turkey and Britain are worth about $16bn (£11.8bn) and have been rising since 2010, with the UK doubling its export finance programme for Turkey to £3.5bn in 2017.

And a $100m deal may be on its way, as Theresa May announced last year during a visit to Ankara that British company BAE System would provide the technology and expertise for the first phase of development of a Turkish-made fighter jet.

A UK official described this project as vital for the UK defence industry. 

The source told the Financial Times: “For companies like BAE to remain at the cutting edge of aerospace research, they need big projects. This is one.” 

While The Netherlands banned the Turkish Foreign Secretary from their airspace, attracting criticism from Mr Johnson who, in turn, invited his counterpart to his country house, the UK publicly reaffirmed his alliance with Turkey in the war against terrorism.

Mr Erdogan said last year: “The United Kingdom displays an exceptional model through its unbiased position which embraces perceived differences as prosperous.”

But the ties that link Ankara and London don’t come without criticism. 

Opposition politicians and Turkish democracy campaigners have spoken against it.

Labour MP Catherine West said there were “serious concerns about attacks on journalist, civil society and the unresolved relationship with the Kurdish communities in Turkey and Syria.”

Many associations including Reporters Without Borders, English PEN and Index on Censorship have organised a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in London on May 15.

English PEN said in its call for the protests: “With so many of journalists and other writers at risk in Turkey, it is essential that we come together to support our imprisoned colleagues.” 

Source : EXPRESS

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