UK to continue to support Turkey's EU membership bid, says FM Boris Johnson

Published 26.09.2016 20:45
Updated 26.09.2016 20:51
emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

Britain will continue to support Turkey's bid to join the European Union even after Britain itself leaves the bloc, said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday in his first official visit to Ankara.

Speaking at the start of a meeting with Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Ömer Çelik, Johnson also said Turkey and Britain were united in the fight against terrorism.

Highlighting his "proud ownership" of a Turkish washing machine, Johnson said: "We are happy in the United Kingdom to be one of the biggest recipients of Turkish goods. I am the proud owner of a digital, very well functioning Turkish washing machine," Johnson told reporters as Minister Çelik sat smiling next to him.

He said he saw a new partnership between the two countries following the Brexit vote, where the United Kingdom opted to leave the European Union and in which Johnson played a key role.

Johnson also said he hoped British tourists - who traditionally flock to Turkey's Mediterranean beaches in the summer - "behaved themselves" in the country.

Johnson is expected to meet with President Erdoğan on Tuesday.

The foreign secretary was one of the leaders of the campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

Çelik said Turkey respected the British decision to leave the bloc but criticized the "anti-Turkish rhetoric" that emerged during the campaign.

"We have to close this ugly parenthesis and look to the future," Çelik said.

He also touched upon the UK's support to Turkey after July 15 coup attempt. "Mr. Johnson gave the strongest support to us after the coup. He told me that the first thing he had to do was visit Turkey after the incident," said Çelik.

Çelik also joked about him and Johnson having a Turkish/Ottoman ancestry. "We are both Ottomans. I had told him [Johnson] that it was important to pay visits to countries in which you have friends. He kept his promise. It means a great deal to us. The UK has always supported our EU membership bid," he reiterated.

Johnson's great-grandfather was an opposition figure in the late Ottoman period.

Earlier, Johnson visited a refugee camp near Turkey's border with Syria where he toured a kindergarten and a school and chatted with Syrian refugee families. The foreign secretary also watched a group of Syrians who were trained in detecting and disposing of improvised explosive devices display their skills on an empty field near the camp, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Turkey is home to an estimated 3 million refugees.

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