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Visit of Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey

Volume 467: debated on Wednesday 7 November 2007

The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. visited the UK on 22 to 23 October. This visit provided a good opportunity to discuss not only issues relating to Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, but also the broad range of shared interests.

During his meeting with Mr. Erdogan on 23 October, the Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s strong support for Turkish accession to the European Union, and encouraged the Turkish Government to continue with its programme of reforms, and implementing its obligations to the European Union. In the context of a series of separatist Kurdish PKK attacks on Turkey in recent weeks, the Prime Minister condemned the indefensible terrorist violence, welcomed Turkey’s restraint in the face of severe provocation, and urged continued dialogue with international partners to resolve the issue.

The meeting also covered the launch of the Turkey/United Kingdom Strategic Partnership 2007-08. This document draws together into one jointly agreed high-level bilateral document the breadth of co-operation across the two Governments on a wide range of issues.

These include work to further Turkey’s EU accession process; improve our co-operation on global security (in particular the fight against terrorism, weapons proliferation, and organised crime); promote regional stability; deepen the defence relationship; tackle climate change and co-operate on developing secure energy supplies; increase our bilateral trade and investment; and increase our ties in education and culture.

In addition, the strategic partnership covered Cyprus settlement issues. It emphasised the primary importance of supporting the UN’s efforts to reunify the island. The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus reached agreement on 8 July 2006 on steps designed to lead to a resumption of settlement negotiations. That agreement, which has the full support of the UK, UN Security Council and the international community, has yet to be implemented. During his meeting with Mr. Erdogan, the Prime Minister underlined the importance of all parties seizing the opportunity for progress next year.

The strategic partnership also described a number of measures designed to bring the Turkish Cypriot community closer to Europe in order to prepare for reunification.