Turkish envoy: 2018 'bright year' for Turkey-UK relations

Published 30.12.2018 22:27
Updated 31.12.2018 08:00

The year 2018 has been a bright one in Turkish-British relations, Turkey's ambassador to London said yesterday.

Reviewing relations between the countries for Anadolu Agency (AA), Ümit Yalçın said Turkish-U.K. relations have a very deep historical background, referring to the establishment of the first bilateral diplomatic contact in 1793 with the appointment of Yusuf Agah Efendi as Ottoman ambassador in London.

"In accordance with this historical perspective, we have had very intense relations in 2018," he noted.

Since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Britain in May helped to shape ongoing and future relations, Yalçın said the president held bilateral meetings with British officials and attended the seventh Tatlıdil Forum, a civil dialogue platform established in 2011 to improve and excel political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

Yalçın noted that Erdoğan met with Prime Minister Theresa May three times this year: first during his visit to the U.K., then during the UN summit in New York and finally in Argentina during the G20 summit.

He said the two countries, situated on either end of Europe as NATO allies, have adopted a target of improving relations without any problems.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu also visited the U.K. twice in 2018, said Yalçın.

"He explained our regional steps both toward our relations with the U.K. and toward Europe's security, stability and welfare," he added.

Yalçın said an improvement in bilateral security relations was also apparent, as the British judiciary banned the use of symbols of the terror group PKK in protests and rallies.

He also said the Turkish Embassy has closely followed cases in Britain concerning the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which was behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.

"Although the decision in the most recent case [extradition request for fugitive alleged FETÖ member Akın İpek] caused disappointment for us, we have appealed the decision, and we will continue to follow this process," he said, referring to a ruling made this November.

Ipek was detained on May 23 after Turkey's request for his extradition over charges related to the coup orchestrated by FETÖ. The suspect left Turkey prior to the seizure of his Koza Holding by court order in October 2015. He lost lawsuits he filed in U.K. courts for the return of his assets seized by Turkey.

The Turkish ambassador underlined that Turkey's political and military steps in Syria and its transparency in investigating the case of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi were seen positively in the U.K.

He said: "As well as bilateral relations, Turkey's regional steps are followed closely here. Our foreign policy steps are evaluated as Turkey's contribution to international relations and regional issues."

This year Turkey's finance, trade and culture ministers visited Britain, and British trade, security, and Europe ministers paid visits to Turkey, and those visits bore fruit in fields of trade, investment, tourism, politics, and security cooperation, said the diplomat.

Yalçın said in 2018 the trade volume between the two countries reached almost $20 billion, and the number of British tourists visiting Turkey reached 2 million, a jump of 37 percent.

Yalçın added that British investments in Turkey total some $300 million.

"We can say that 2018 has been a positive and bright year in investments, tourism, exports, and trade," Yalçın said.

"All this gives us hope for next year too," he added.

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