The UK’s relations with Turkey Contents


1.The importance of the United Kingdom’s relationship with Turkey, and the importance of Turkey as a key state positioned between Europe and the Middle East, was clear to the Committee from its work on the consequences of the civil war in Syria and the fight against ISIL. The Committee’s analysis of these subjects raised questions about the UK’s policy towards Turkey, and Turkey’s own objectives, that we intended to answer through a full inquiry. Our predecessor Committee Report UK-Turkey Relations and Turkey’s Regional Role published on 4 April 20121 provided useful background for us. However its conclusions had been overtaken by events and were clearly over-optimistic. The decision of the UK to leave the European Union, and the coup attempt that Turkey suffered on 15 July 2016, added to the scope and timeliness of our inquiry.

2.Our terms of reference were announced on 21 July 2016. These covered:

3.We received a wide range of written submissions addressing these topics as well as others, which are published on the website of this inquiry.2 We thank all of the authors for their work and contributions. In addition to this written evidence, the Committee also heard oral evidence in three public meetings and is grateful for the time and insight offered by the participants:

a)Professor William Hale, Emeritus Professor at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London; Mr Ziya Meral, Resident Fellow at the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research; Mr Bill Park, Senior Lecturer at the Defence Studies Department, King’s College, University of London; and Professor Rosemary Hollis, Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at City, University of London

b)Dr Yüksel Alp Aslandoğan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Shared Values; and Mr Özcan Keleş, Chairman of the Dialogue Society

c)Mr Ertuğrul Kürkçü, a Member of Parliament for, and Honorary President of, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of Turkey

d)Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP, the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and Lindsay Appleby, a Director for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

4.The Committee undertook a visit to Turkey in January 2017 that encompassed meetings in Ankara, Istanbul, and Adana. We would like to thank the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey, who extended to us the invitation to visit, as well as the staff of the Turkish Embassy in London and all other Turkish institutions who facilitated our visit and provided us with security. We also record our thanks to the staff of the British Embassy in Ankara and the British Consulate in Istanbul for the significant work they undertook to support the visit.

5.During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet and put questions to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the Governor of Adana Province Mahmut Demirtaş, as well as representatives from all four of Turkey’s parliamentary parties. We thank them all for their hospitality. Our meetings with a wide range of activists, journalists, and analysts—as well as with business leaders and young Turkish citizens—were of great value for this inquiry.

6.The Committee would like to thank our Specialist Adviser, Güney Yildiz,3 for his tireless work and attention to detail in support of our inquiry.

1 Foreign Affairs Committee, 12th Report of Session 2010–12, UK–Turkey relations and Turkey’s regional role, HC 1567.

2 Foreign Affairs Committee, “UK’s relations with Turkey inquiry—publications, accessed 13 March 2017

3 On 25 October 2016, Güney Yildiz made the following declaration of interest on his appointment as Specialist Adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee: “I have been working for the BBC as a Producer and Reporter since 2007. I have switched to working part time with the BBC since October this year. I have also started and MPhil/PhD in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge this year. I am not receiving funding from any government department at the moment. I am a member of trade unions the NUJ and the BECTU. I don’t have any active role in these unions. My wife is also a PhD student.” Foreign Affairs Committee, Formal Minutes 2016–17. In March 2017, Mr Yildiz updated his declaration of interest to inform the Committee that he was no longer employed by the BBC as from January 2017.

23 March 2017