Daily Management Review

Does Turkey-Britain alliance have a future?


Recently, British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Turkey. Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo has had his first international visit to Ankara, which resulted in an apparently fruitful conversation on security and trade relations between Turkey and the United States.

This development is important for the UK. Prime Minister’s diplomatic tightrope-walking in Turkey was quite prominent since the parties signed a 100 million pounds-worth deal for developing fighters for the Turkish Air Force. This political rope can be strained even further when the US and Turkey change their political views. In particular, it concerns the Middle East - a key point of discussion during Pompeo’s visit.

On the other hand, this creates an opportunity for the UK. Change of Turkey’s attitude towards the US and the EU gives the UK a chance to restore its influence in the diplomacy world. The UK has already arranged a constructive meeting last week, and there’s no doubts that the country can position itself as a partner for Turkey in its relations with the US and the EU in the process of building trade relations with one of the most important partners after Brexit.

Turkey is the third largest military force after the United States and NATO. Despite recent events, the state is still a bastion of stability in the troubled region. Turkey is extremely useful in dealing with the EU its refugee crisis - now the country hosts more refugees (around 3 million people) than any other state.

Turkey is crucial for the EU and for the UK in terms of trade. The Turkish market absorbs about 5 billion pounds of goods from Britain annually. Despite the fact that the country has suffered from a major economic downturn, its fundamentals remain stable, especially compared to other partners in the emerging markets. Nevertheless, it belies the fact that Turkey has been hit hard over the past year. The rigid coup brought a lot of turmoil last year, and fight against Kurdish factions and ISIL both in Turkey and in Syria didn’t make it easier. Turkey has suffered from terrorism much more than any other European country.

The Syrian conflict and creation of a Kurdish state are undoubtedly serious security problems in Turkey. In addition, the country faced a diplomatic crisis in relations with its main partners, Russia and Greece. Against this background, Iran is augmenting its potential to become a regional hegemon. However, this does not excuse violations of human rights in Turkey in relation to media, activists and the public generally, as observed after the coup. Neither it excuses dubious constitutional changes announced this week by President.

Yet, it really creates a prism through which the UK should cooperate with Turkey. All Western countries are facing the terrorism threat, but perhaps no country has gone through it so much as Turkey. In the minds of Turkish citizens, this situation is being exacerbated by almost complete absence of moral and political support from Western allies.

The UK government should encourage Turkey to take decisive actions, including release of illegally detained persons after the unsuccessful military coup - from mayors and councilors to oppositionists. At the same time, the United Kingdom has to show that it is ready to do everything in its power to help its ally to trace those responsible for the coup attempt and death of civilians. Scrupulous attention to protection of religious, ethnic and political minorities will lead to a stronger, healthier and happier Turkey.

Turkey is going through a crisis once again. The country has great potential, and represents one of the most viable and valuable potential partners among the emerging markets for the UK. Britain should make every effort to improve relations between the two countries. Theresa May’s visit was a constructive first step, but the balance is too unsteady. 

source: theguardian.com