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Volume 643: debated on Tuesday 26 June 2018

Following the re-election of President Erdoğan and the AKP party on Sunday, we look forward to continuing our close co-operation with Turkey. Turkey continues to face serious terrorist threats from the PKK and Daesh, and from the Syria conflict. We are a close partner of Turkey and we co-operate strongly on counter-terrorism in particular.

In the light of President Erdoğan’s election at the weekend, what pressure can the Government bring to bear to ensure that human rights and the rule of law are upheld in that country?

That is a perfectly valid question. This is something that we raise on every occasion that we meet Ministers from Turkey. The Prime Minister spoke to President Erdoğan last night, both to congratulate him but also to ensure that the findings of the OSCE office for democratic institutions and human rights report, which released its preliminary findings yesterday, are fully upheld.

As a former journalist of many years standing, I feel a particular affinity for the hundreds of journalists who are jailed in Turkey and no doubt being brutally treated. Will the Government tell the House what they are doing to highlight the plight of those brave men and women?

A fundamental principle of our foreign policy is to defend freedom of expression and media freedom in all the countries we have associations with. This is something that we raise on a regular basis with all our counterparts in Turkey.

The right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) has perambulated away from her normal position, but we are nevertheless delighted to see her.

I agree with the hon. Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) that thousands of journalists, as well as thousands of academics and other individuals, are being held without trial in jail in Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of people are being held without trial in prison there, including political leaders and members of Parliament. I ask the Foreign Office to be robust in its discussions with President Erdoğan on the safety of those people and their right to a fair trial.

I can assure the right hon. Lady that one of the advantages of our close association with Turkey is that we can speak to it very directly and firmly, in a way that many of our counterparts cannot. We have called on Turkey on many occasions to end the state of emergency that has led to many of those arrests, and we very much hope that, following the clear result of the election, the state of emergency can be lifted.

I beg the hon. Gentleman’s pardon, but I think that Mr Mahmood wanted to come in from the Front Bench.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. We are all concerned about the impact of this result on the human rights of those journalists, political prisoners and academics who are being held in prison, and on press freedoms and the rule of law inside Turkey. The Minister has described our close connections with Turkey. As a first step, have the Government urged President Erdoğan to lift the state of emergency?

As I have just said, we have. The answer again is yes, we would like President Erdoğan to lift the state of emergency. In the course of the elections, there were sort of commitments to do so, and we hope that those commitments can be fulfilled by lifting it as soon as possible.