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David Lidington

Minister for Europe, London

Part of FCDO Outreach

11th April 2012 London, UK

Turkey and the UK – prosperity, security and stability

Last Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee published its report into UK-Turkey relations and Turkey’s regional role. Select Committee reports are very important for the Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as they provide external scrutiny by parliamentarians that allows us to identify whether or not our policy is working and highlight opportunities for the future.

It is good to see that the report endorses the Government’s firm support for Turkey’s EU accession. We believe that Turkish accession would benefit the UK and the wider EU, contributing to our shared prosperity, security and stability.  I met Egemen Bagis – Turkey’s EU Minister – in February, and we discussed these issues in detail. Egemen reaffirmed that Turkey was committed to joining the EU and that they value and welcome our support. We will continue to provide whatever practical support we can.

The report also recognises Turkey’s growing international stature and activism.  The Arab Spring, in particular, has highlighted the value of close co-operation in the Middle East and North Africa. Last weekend’s Friends of Syria conference in Istanbul was a prime example of this. We are also working closely together in the Western Balkans, Somalia and Afghanistan. I want to continue to deepen our collaboration.

Across Government, we are focused also on developing the commercial relationship.  Total trade between the UK and Turkey reached £9.1 billion in 2011 – an increase of 40% since 2009.  The Government is committed to building on this success. As we did during the recent State Visit by President Gul, we need to raise awareness of the opportunities for British exporters and tackle market access issues. David Willetts’ visit earlier this week, which focused on scientific and educational co-operation, was a real success. Lord Green’s visit later this month will be an important opportunity to strengthen our commercial relationship further.

The report highlights human rights concerns. We strongly encourage Turkey to continue to work on improving its human rights record. We will work closely with the Government of Turkey, both bilaterally and at the EU level, to support progress in their domestic reform programme to address broader human rights issues. In 2011/12, we have offered technical assistance on a range of issues, including freedom of expression, women’s rights, and judicial and public administration reform. We recognise the progress Turkey has made in recent years, welcome recent proposals for judicial reform and remain ready to help in any way we can.

About David Lidington

David Lidington MP was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 14 May 2010. David Lidington was elected to Parliament in 1992 and is the Member…

David Lidington MP was appointed Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 14 May 2010.
David Lidington was elected to Parliament in 1992 and is the Member of Parliament for Aylesbury.
He worked for BP and RTZ before spending three years as Special Advisor to Douglas Hurd in the Home Office and Foreign Office.
His proudest political achievement was successfully promoting a
Private Members Bill which became the Chiropractors Act in 1994. He
believes that this piece of legislation has made a real difference to
many people’s lives.
He has a long standing passion for history, and has twice captained a
champion team on University Challenge, first in 1979 and then in 2002
when the Sidney Sussex team became “champion of champions” in University
Challenge Reunited.
He is married to Helen Lidington and has four sons.