2018 has been “a bright year” in Turkish-British relations, according to Turkey’s ambassador to London.
Reviewing relations between the countries for Anadolu Agency, Umit Yalcin said bilateral diplomatic contact was established over two centuries ago, in 1793, with the appointment of Yusuf Agah Efendi as Ottoman ambassador in London.
“Turkish-U.K. relations have a very deep historical background,” he said, adding: “In accordance with this historical perspective, we have had very intense relations in 2018.”
Telling how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Britain this May helped shape ongoing and future relations, Yalcin said Erdogan held bilateral meetings with British officials and attended the seventh Tatli Dil Forum – a mechanism to facilitate and strengthen relations between Turkey and the U.K. – in Reading.
Yalcin underlined that Erdogan 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.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited the U.K. twice in 2018, said Yalcin.
“He explained our regional steps both toward our relations with the U.K. and toward Europe’s security, stability and welfare,” he added.
This year Turkish 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.
Yalcin 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.
Yalcin 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,” Yalcin said.
“All this gives us hope for next year too,” he added.
Yalcin 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 FETO, the terrorist group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
“Although the decision in the most recent case [extradition request for fugitive alleged FETO member Akin Ipek] 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.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Turkey’s relations with the U.K., which is set to leave the EU after March 29, and its high-level dialogue and subcommittee meetings with the U.K., will continue next year, Yalcin said.
He said those meetings will shape future trade relations and how Turkish citizens’ rights will be protected.
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.”