Despite protests, Britain hopes to foster good ties with Turkey

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to foster good ties with Turkey before Brexit at talks with President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday in spite of human rights protests which threatened to cast a shadow over their meeting.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan is greeted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth during a private audience at Buckingham Palace, LondonÊMay 15, 2018. John Stillwell/Pool via Reuters

Erdogan’s visit is part of May’s charm offensive to shore up relations with countries outside the European Union as Britain leaves the bloc and secure at least the promise of future trade deals to bolster her all but stalled Brexit plans.

But rights campaigners say May is turning a blind eye to abuses, in Turkey’s case to the jailing tens of thousands of people after a failed coup in July. Erdogan’s government has said its actions are necessary to combat the threat it faces.

May’s spokesman said Britain would raise human rights with Erdogan at the meeting.

Demonstrators wave flags outside Downing Street ahead of the visit by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in London, Britain, May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble

“Our close relationship with Turkey allows us to have frank discussions and you can expect the prime minister to discuss human rights when they speak later today,” the spokesman told reporters.

Just hours before the leaders were due to meet, around 100 protesters waved banners outside May’s Downing Street office depicting Erdogan as a puppet master with blood on his hands. Another said “tamam”, or enough.

About 20 metres away, separated by barriers and a police cordon, a similar number waved Turkish flags in the direction of the anti-Erdogan protesters, chanted and played loud music.

Slideshow (9 Images)

The two sides briefly scuffled.

May secured a commitment last year for Britain and Turkey to work on post-Brexit trade, and Erdogan has said he was keen on securing a deal immediately after Britain leaves the EU.

Her spokesman also said the two sides would discuss ways of deepening cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, migration, regional stability and trade.

Ties between the EU and Turkey are increasingly strained, with Brussels saying that Erdogan is leading his country away from the path to membership, while some Turkish officials say they feel betrayed by some the bloc’s leaders.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

Source link

About NBN Editorial Team 69016 Articles
NBN's team of Field Producers, Editorial Staff & Contributors create & produce original content for distribution. NBN is located in Beautiful Tampa Bay with Mobile Units Serving Miami, Orlando and Fort Myers.