Turkish-British relations in a very different position


The deepening of Turkish-U.K. ties shows other countries how partnerships are built and maintained

United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May's second official visit abroad was to Ankara after Washington. During this visit, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, "The U.K. and Turkey will enjoy a very different nature and a very different position." Some developments that occurred in the aftermath of this visit verified his remark.

A report, "The UK's Relations with Turkey," released by the U.K. Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) was the main actor behind the July 15 coup attempt. In this sense, the U.K. has become the first European country displaying an official stance with regard to FETÖ.

Likewise, the first European foreign minister supporting Turkey's fight against the outlawed PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG) was British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who tweeted the following when Operation Olive Branch started in Afrin: "Turkey is right to want to keep its borders secure."

Furthermore, in a period in which Germany negatively responded to requests to provide weapon, ammunition and defense materials to Turkey, the most tangible indication of improving Turkey-Britain relations has been the cooperation between the two countries in the defense industry. During May's visit, Britain agreed to a 100-million-pound defense deal between BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries to help develop fighter jets for the Turkish air force. Three months later, Turkish company Kale Group and the British Rolls-Royce, one of the leading aircraft engine producers in the world, agreed to develop jet engines in Turkey.

Recently, a four-person delegation from the U.K. House of Lords visited Turkey upon the invitation of an Istanbul-based nongovernmental organization, the Bosporus Center for Global Affairs. Accepted by President Erdoğan, the delegation also met Turkey's foreign minister and energy minister. As part of the event, they exchanged ideas with various representatives of opposition groups to businessmen and artists.

One of the most underscored points in the statements of the Lords to press members was the emphasis on the requirement of improving Turkey-Britain relations, as both countries are prominent NATO members. Also, referring to Johnson's remarks, Lord Stuart Polak indicated that Turkey's protection of its borders is not only a right, but also a responsibility for its citizens.

Also, Lord David Trimble, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, said that Turkey does not only show interest in the basic necessities of refugees but also provides education opportunities to a substantial part of them while offering adults a chance to work and earn a living. I read his statement as an expression of appreciation of Turkey's refugee policy, which is the leading factor that prevented the refugee inflow to Europe.

As ties deepen between these two NATO allies, lawmakers in both countries should continue to be in strategic conversations, but more importantly, show by example to other countries how partnerships are built and maintained.

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