Supplementary memorandum from the Secretary
of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
When we met on 13 March I undertook to write
to you with additional information on a number of specific points.
(Q 182) The Committee asked about the number
of Turkish speakers engaged in our operation in Turkey, and coming
up through the ranks for future deployment there. Seven of our
UK-based staff in Ankara speak Turkish (ie have passed the FCO
exams at "functional" or "operational" level).
Five of our UK-based staff in Istanbul are at this level. I enclose
a note on the position within the Diplomatic Service as a whole.
(Q 214) The Committee expressed interest
in the nature and scale of the projects supported under our EU
Action Plan for Turkey. I enclose a note with the full details
of this successful programme last year. We aim to repeat that
pattern this year.
(Q 215) The Committee discussed our visa
operation in Turkey. There was not time for me to set out all
the measures we have recently taken to analyse the problem, and
to ensure that we meet our targets for speed and quality of service.
I enclose a comprehensive note on this issue.
(Q 219) The Committee asked about Turkey's
share of the Chevening scholarship programme; and whether past
reductions in Turkey's allocation had been predicated on Turkey's
future qualification for the EU's Socrates programme. I enclose
a note showing the pattern of spending on Chevening scholarships
across the FCO "Wider Europe Command" (under which Turkey
is brigaded) over four financial years. That is the principal
context in which Turkey's allocation is decidedas Mr Macgregor
explained at our meeting. Nevertheless, we do work in close partnership
with the European Commission, both in Ankara and in Brussels,
and we aim to ensure that our programmes are coherent and mutually
reinforcing. Our overall aim is to ensure that the largest affordable
number of Turkish students come to British universities.
The Committee sought reassurance that pressures
on our visa operation were not hampering our Chevening scholarship
programme. I am satisfied that appropriate systems are in place
to ensure that Chevening scholars are fast-tracked through the
visa process. Since our meeting, we have reconfirmed that the
British Council in Turkey shares this assessment.
(Q 216) The Committee asked about one specific
case, raised with you by the British Council. The Chevening scholar
concerned was granted a visa for her studies. The problem arose
when, having returned to Turkey, she applied for a visa to attend
her graduation ceremony in the UK. It appears that, on this occasion,
she may not have supplied a letter of recommendation from the
British Council, or even signalled that she was a Chevening scholar
(our visa office has records which would permit such a claim to
be verified). We will be able to investigate further once the
individual concerned confirms to the British Council that she
wishes her name to be divulged. Meanwhile, the British Council
in Turkey have reviewed their procedures for scholars wishing
to attend graduation ceremonies. While they do not cover such
scholars' costs, they do provide letters of support upon request,
and explain this procedure when debriefing scholars when they
return at the end of their studies.
Finally, although the Committee did not specifically
request this, I enclose a copy of the opening statement I had
prepared. May I wish you an interesting and successful visit to
Cyprus next week? I look forward to the Committee's report.
Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Secretary of State
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
22 March 2002