- Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon David Cameron
- Part of:
- Peace and stability in the Middle East and North Africa and Turkey
- 22 November 2011
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Prime Minister gave a statement after a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul
Mr Cameron said:
Thank you very much. It’s a great honour to welcome President Gul to Number 10 Downing Street. Turkey is a great friend of Britain, a vital trading partner, a strong NATO ally, and an influential leader in the region with a unique position at the meeting point between East and West. We’ve had some excellent conversations today covering all sorts of subjects, from Syria to Iran to Turkey’s future in the European Union - conversations between two very good, close friends with a deep relationship. Our close relationship with Turkey is why I went to Turkey on one of my first trips as Prime Minister. It is why we have brought, I think, unprecedented vigour and depth to the partnership between our countries. I was flattered when you said it had entered a Golden Age - that is what I believe too.
Today our discussions have focused on three priorities. First, we looked at Turkey as a vital voice and a like-minded partner in North Africa and the Middle East. It’s no coincidence that when British diplomats had to leave Tripoli it was the Turkish government that helped to look after British interests in Libya. Today we have had important discussions on Syria where now a full-scale civil war is a real possibility. Turkey and the Arab League have shown welcome leadership and that gives us a way to stop the brutality of this morally bankrupt regime. The world now needs to get behind this with concerted pressure on the regime and positive engagement with the opposition movements who can represent Syrians in an inclusive transition, and we specifically discussed that today.
Second, Turkey and the United Kingdom share absolutely vital strategic interests. Let me be absolutely clear: Britain is a champion of full Turkish membership of the European Union. I believe the case for Turkish membership of the EU is indisputable. The EU should stick by the offer it has made. Turkey has made great progress over the last decade and we welcome the determination to deliver further progress through broad-based constitutional reform. On terrorism too we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Turkey. We discussed this some moments ago. We condemn the PKK attacks in Turkey; we have taken action against the PKK right here and in return we look to Turkey as a key partner on the international terrorism that threatens us.
Third and finally: trade and jobs. My aim to is connect Britain to the fastest growing parts of the world, so 16 months ago I set the target of doubling our bilateral trade in five years. By the end of the year, trade will be more than £9 billion a year, up nearly 40% since 2009. British companies are playing a major role in Turkey’s economic transformation - a transformation I saw for myself. Invensys has just completed an £800 million deal to upgrade railways. Diageo announced a billion pound investment in July, and a Turkish construction company has now signed agreements for a major development here in London’s Canary Wharf. The President and I have agreed to do all we can to accelerate this progress, including through a new work on priority visa services for business visitors, and I look forward to further strengthening and deepening of our partnership between our two countries in the months and years ahead. Mr President.
President Gul continued:
Thank you Mr Prime Minister, distinguished members of the press. I am very pleased and filled with honour to pay a state visit to Britain upon invitation by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It is in fact the first such visit to the UK from Turkey in three years. I am returning Her Majesty’s splendid visit to Turkey in 2008. I would like to thank first and foremost Her Majesty the Queen, the Prime Minister, and all other British officials for the warm welcome and hospitality we have been receiving since we arrived in London.
We indeed are living the Golden Age of Turkish-British relations. Three million British tourists visit Turkey each year. Around 40,000 Britons have chosen Turkey as their second home, and a Turkish community of 400,000 in the UK are the strongest pillars where both our relations happen. The two countries share common values and a vision for a peaceful and prosperous future. In joining their forces toward a better world, Turkey and the UK are two strategic partners since 2007.
Members of the press, today - as the Prime Minister mentioned - we exchanged views on a wide range of issues with Prime Minister Cameron. We paid particular attention to Turkey’s EU membership negotiation. Mr Cameron reiterated once again that the UK will keep pushing and supporting Turkey’s EU bid. For that, we truly are thankful and looking forward to more of such regional statements in Europe. Once more, I have to thank him that again you made a very open and sincere statement, Mr Prime Minister.
We also addressed the negotiations on Cyprus. As regards tourists, we underscored our commitment to strongly support the negotiations under the UN Secretary General’s good offices. I draw their attention to the fact that if the European Union does not show a strong political will, unification of the island could be once again rendered impossible due to the unwillingness of the Greek-Cypriot side. Although they rejected the Annan Plan in 2004, they were allowed to join the EU. Now they are preparing to hold the EU Presidency in such a critical moment in Europe. It is why we should keep encouraging all parties to act in good faith in order to reach a permanent settlement in Cyprus.
In today’s meeting, we have also taken up the recent developments in the Arab world. We discussed how we can help Arab people on the road toward democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. It is our firm belief that Turkish-British relations are set to contribute significantly in this regard. I sincerely believe that the deliberations we have had today will have strengthened our relationship, so we are having a very good relationship in almost all the fields and we are in constant contact. We are coordinating; we are consulting on many regional and international issues. I am very much happy with this meeting; it was very fruitful. Once more, I want to thank you for your support.
Published: 22 November 2011