Cooperation between Turkey and the U.K. in the fight against terrorism is at a much more advanced stage than mechanisms we have with other partners, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
Speaking on the closing day of the 7th Tatli Dil Forum, Erdogan addressed the forum – a mechanism aiming to boost relations between Turkey and the U.K.
Erdogan told how the foundations of the forum were laid back in 2011 when he was serving as prime minister, along with then-British Premier David Cameron.
He said since its establishment, the forum has developed into a think tank.
Reviewing the “nearly 500 years” of history between Turkey and Britain, Erdogan cited such landmarks as Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt (1789-1801) and the Crimean War (1853-1856) are promoting rapprochement between the two.
Erdogan said a replica of an Ottoman nishan (decoration) awarded by Sultan Selim III to Britain’s legendary Admiral Lord Nelson for his service during the French campaign in Egypt in 1798 was placed at the entrance of the hall where the Tatli Dil Forum was held today, showing the deep ties between the two countries.
- UK solidarity
Underlining the U.K.’s “sincere solidarity” after the July 2016 defeated coup attempt by FETO, Erdogan said “we will never forget the solidarity shown with our country.”
“I especially thank Alan [Duncan] very much for this,” Erdogan said, adding that British officials showed a pro-democracy stance by firmly rejecting the vile coup attempt, while many other Western countries even failed to condemn it.
Minister for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan, who visited Turkey only three days after the defeated coup, was the first European official to show support with Turkey following the attempted putsch.
- Strong trade
On trade between the two countries, Erdogan said the U.K. is Turkey’s second-biggest export market and the two countries hope to increase the commerce volume from $16 billion to $20 billion.
On defense cooperation, Erdogan called for the joint marketing of commonly developed and manufactured products to third countries.
“The synergy which will occur when Turkey’s operational opportunities and the U.K.’s financial power come together will bring very big benefits to both sides,” he said.
Erdogan also said Turkish tourism is on the rise, leaving behind a period of stagnation, with 40 million tourists expected to visit this year.
Erdogan said: “Turkey places importance on the security of the Euro-Atlantic region.
“We are working to build a sustainable peace in the Middle East.
“We are aiming for stability in countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. We would like to see a common fight against all types of terrorism.”
- Daesh and Islam
Erdogan said calling the Daesh terrorist group the “Islamic State” is a grave mistake, as it does the greatest damage to Muslims. He said the roots of the word “Islam” mean peace.
“Our religion is a religion of peace,” Erdogan added.
He said “the U.K. with its many Muslim citizens and with its multicultural and pluralist structure” would understand this issue much better than many other friends and allies.
- Valued partner
Erdogan said he will meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May during his three-day visit to the U.K., which began Sunday.
"The U.K. is a valued and trusted strategic partner for us. As Turkey, we are ready for more cooperation in every field of the post-Brexit era as well,” he said.
"We are a nation which never forgets our friends who stood with us in hard times. The value we attach to those friends who will walk alongside us today, in the wake of a new era, will be very different.”
By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal in London