Turkey-U.K. ties are based on a strategic partnership as bilateral cooperation exists in a wide range of fields, Turkish envoy to London Ümit Yalçın said Thursday.
Speaking to Demirören News Agency (DHA), Yalçın highlighted the U.K.'s support of Turkey following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and stated that such solidarity has deepened the ties. Pointing at the Brexit process as yet another period that strengthens the ties, the envoy expressed that the diplomatic visits of both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 3-5, 2019, and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on July 8, 2020, to London demonstrate the strong relationship between the countries.
Turkey-U.K. relations have reached extraordinary levels in the last decade. Both countries have been enjoying well-established relations based on their NATO membership, mutual economic interests and shared security concerns.
"The dialogue continues during the COVID-19 pandemic as well based on the social distancing principles," the envoy added, indicating that during this process, Turkey also provided medical aid to the virus-hit U.K., which enhanced their diplomatic cooperation.
Turkey stepped in and donated 250,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE), including 50,000 N-95 facemasks, 100,000 surgical masks and 100,000 protective suits to the U.K. as an initial delivery in April, followed by other deliveries which were welcomed by the U.K. authorities.
Yalçın referred to the Turkish citizens living in the U.K. as one of the primary factors that strengthen the bilateral ties between the countries and praised the Turkish diaspora for their support of Turkey.
"The fact that our citizens in the U.K. are participating successfully in social and economic life empowers the relations," he said, adding that the Turkish citizens' backing allowed Turkey to open multiple consulates in various U.K. provinces, including Manchester, where preparations for a consulate is still ongoing.
The most common question being posed by the Turkish diaspora to the consulates is when will flights resume between the countries, the envoy stated.
Bilateral economic ties between the two countries are also going to strengthen, Yalçın added.
"Our bilateral trade volume with the U.K. reached about $16.3 billion (TL122 billion) in 2019. About $11 billion of this is our exports, while the rest is our imports," the envoy further informed, adding that Turkey's exports to the U.K. are rising every day.
The U.K. is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner after Germany. It is also among the 17 countries with which Turkey increased exports last year in five priority sectors – machinery, automotive, electronics, chemicals and food. Turkey's top exports to the U.K. are comprised of electrical machinery and devices.
"Direct investments of U.K.-based firms to Turkey have reached $10 billion," Yalçın said, underlining that the two countries are doing their best to avoid the negative effects of the pandemic on bilateral economic ties.
More than 2,500 U.K. companies are operating in Turkey, including BP, Shell, Vodafone, Unilever, BAE Systems, HSBC, Aviva and Diageo.
Regarding the Brexit process, Yalçın said the U.K.'s departure from the EU will not affect its ties with Turkey as they are working on new agreements in every field.
The U.K. has signed free trade agreements (FTA) with many nations, but Ankara is unable to do so due to Turkey's international commitments to the EU.
London continues to work closely with Ankara to progress their discussions to ensure that a strong trading relationship continues at the end of the transition period on Dec. 31, 2020.