CFT Business Reception at the Conservative Party Conference, Monday 30 Sep
Following our 2013 theme of strengthening Turkey-UK trade and business links, we are hosting a reception at the Conservative Party Conference this year. We anticipate a large number of Turkish and British businesses to attend. The reception will be a chance to meet representatives from government and the private sector who all share an interest in promoting bilateral trade and joint ventures. We hope to see you there; to RSVP please email: firstname.lastname@example.orgCFT Business Reception , Monday 30 September 17:30-19:00 Manchester Central, Cobden 4
The Party Conference will be in Manchester this year, between Sunday 29 September – Wednesday 2 October. If you will be attending any of the conference events within either the Manchester Central or The Midland Hotel venues, you will need a conference photographic security pass. To register for a pass please visit the conference website.
Gezi Park protests stall EU negotiation talks
Turkish police and protestors remain at odds over the future development of Gezi Park, nearly one month after police forcibly evicted protestors from the site. The Turkish government has been internationally criticized for its handling of the protests and EU foreign ministers have since backed a German proposal to further postpone EU membership talks with Turkey until the autumn. The talks had been due to resume in late June, but tensions between Turkish and German officials hindered any immediate progress. Negotiations will now begin after a progress report on Turkey’s EU bid is presented in October. Much work remains from both sides: out of 35 chapters in total only 13 have been opened since Turkey’s negotiations began, and eight have been frozen because of Turkey’s dispute with Cyprus. So far, only one chapter – on science and research – has been closed. More information is available here.
Istanbul remains confident about Olympic Games bid
Turkish officials continue to express optimism over Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee will decide the host city in September, with Tokyo and Madrid also competing for the honour. Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas, among others, has expressed concerns that Istanbul’s bid is now handicapped by the Gezi Park protests and allegations of doping by Turkish track and weightlifting athletes. However, Istanbul’s bid has attracted numerous supporters including Australian swimming champion Ian Thorpe and footballers Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue. Please click here for more details.
Turkey’s entertainment and media poised for growth
A new report from PWC predicts that Turkey’s entertainment and media sector is expected to reach $11.6 billion this year, increasing from $10.2 billion in 2012. An annual average of 11.4 percent growth is expected for Turkey’s entertainment and media sector for the next five years, while the same average is 5.6 percent globally. The report speculates the growth will be fuelled by mobile internet services and new platforms for digital ads. Further information can be found here.
Welcome to the Winter/Spring edition of the CFT newsletter.
CFT Drinks and Glass Painting Exhibition – Thu, 23 May 7pm
We are pleased to announce that one of our team members, Ulvi Pepinova, will be exhibiting her latest artworks on 23 May. The collection, Glass Buta and Spacious Dreams, draws on her dual Turkish and Azeri heritage and features silica paints on glass in two- and three-dimensional formats. For more information, please go to www.facebook.com/ulviglasspainting. We hope you can join us, it’ll also be a great opportunity to catch up.
Thursday, 23 May, 7-11pm
The Hollywood Arms, 45 Hollywood Road, SW10 9HX London
The exhibition is free to attend, but please RSVP: email@example.com. A cash bar will operate.
Turkey and Syria: Reyhanli bombings
This weekend a double car bomb exploded in a Reyhanli, a Turkish town on the Syrian border. 46 people were killed and Turkish police have arrested nine people in connection with the attacks, all of whom are Turkish citizens. Foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has suggested those responsible for the bombings were also involved in an alleged massacre in the Syrian coastal town of Banyias the previous weekend. “The attack has nothing to do with the Syrian refugees in Turkey. It’s got everything to do with the Syrian regime,” he said in a TV interview. Syrian government has denied being responsible for the bombings.
PKK begins leaving Turkey
PKK has reportedly begun leaving south-eastern Turkey for their safe havens in Iraq under a ceasefire. There was no official confirmation of the move from Turkey but an unnamed security source told Reuters: “We have observed movement among [PKK] group members, but have not been able to establish whether this is regrouping or preparation for a withdrawal”. Newspapers in Turkey have expressed both wariness and guarded optimism towards the withdrawal – a few headlines can be found here. The three-decade conflict killed more than 40,000.
Turkey-UK trade: new trade mission, easier visas
Kit Malthouse, the Deputy London Mayor for Business & Enterprise, is this week leading a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) trade mission to Istanbul. Mr Malthouse has said Istanbul is “hot favourite” to host the 2020 Olympic Games and is due to tell the Turkish organisers, “we are your friends and we want you to win”. The delegation coincides with Export Week (13-17 May), which aims to promote the export capacity of UK SMEs to Turkey and other high growth markets.
Meanwhile, the fourth meeting of the Turkey-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee took place in London last week. Attendees included Zafer Caglayan, Turkish Economic Minister; Lord Green, British Minister for Trade and Investments and; business executives and investors from both countries. Mr Caglayan called for Europe to end visa procedures for Turkish business people, academics, artists and journalists. Lord Green responded by reminding attendees that the UK will shortly begin a new visa procedure for the business world that will allow 500 companies from Turkey and the UK to receive easier visas.
Istanbul INN London
Over four days from 12-15 April, ‘Istanbul INN London’ featured leading galleries, retailers,
designers, and fashion from emerging and established Istanbul talent. A fundamental aim of the event was to shatter misconceptions, offering an authentic reflection of modern-day Istanbul.
CFT was pleased to contribute to the business sessions of the event, which stressed the importance of Turkey as an area of future growth for UK SMEs. We were delighted to hear about the growing number of Turkey-UK joint ventures. Two key messages emerged from the presentations: 1) A local partner is essential in Turkey, to quickly learn about the market and given the importance of referrals, 2) Turkey is not just Istanbul, there is a lot of growth in Anatolian cities.
CFT to focus on Turkey-UK trade and joint ventures
We recently published our first article with the progressive Conservative think tank Bright Blue: “A tale of two aspiration nations“. If you haven’t seen it already, please have a look and let us know your thoughts. Looking ahead, we aim to strengthen our ties with the business community and organise more events promoting Turkey-UK bilateral trade and joint ventures. Please continue to visit our website and Facebook page for updates.
PKK and US Embassy killings
As negotiations with PKK continue in the background, three female Kurdish activists were shot dead in Paris on 9 January. The suspected killer, Omer Guney, is described as a chauffeur to the women. One victim, Sakine Cansız, was a founding member of the PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US. An investigation is underway. Separately, on 1 February the US embassy in Ankara was bombed, resulting in two fatalities. The alleged suicide bomber was identified as a member of an extreme-left terrorist group. The US and Turkey have pledged to work together to prevent future terrorist attacks.
Turkey’s accession to the EU saw two major setbacks this quarter. Firstly, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that should the Conservatives win a second term, he will hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership by 2017. The Prime Minister has offered unconditional support for Turkey’s EU membership, and should the UK depart, Turkey would lose its greatest ally. Separately, Turkish Weekly has published research commissioned by the Center for Economy and Foreign Policy Research (EDAM) showing that two-thirds of Turks do not support Turkey’s EU membership. The attitudes of this survey sharply contrasted with the optimism of an Op/Ed written for the Guardian in December by Egemen Bağış, Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs.
According to the Turkish Exporters Assembly, Turkish exports have surged to $11 billion, rising 5.6 percent in January compared to the same month last year, with the automotive sector taking the top spot at $1.5 billion in export volume despite its previous troubles. The good news was a welcome contrast to the decision by Moody’s to refuse Turkey an investment grade rating. Following the news, the Istanbul Stock Exchange closed 4.2 per cent down, its biggest decline in over a year.
2020: Spotlight on Istanbul
Istanbul is currently leading the pack to host two world-class sporting events in 2020, the Olympic Games and the European Championship final and semi-final matches. On 7 January, Turkey submitted its fourth bid to host the Olympics, competing against Madrid and Tokyo for the honour. Turkish authorities have officially backed the bid and stated that if Turkey is chosen as the host city in September, it will withdraw its candidacy for the European Championship. UEFA President Michael Platini said last week that provided Istanbul does not win the Olympic Games bid, it is his preferred city for the Euro finals.
Runaway success for Turkish Airlines
This autumn, Turkish airlines received a four star rating from Skytrax, the industry standards authority. The rating reflects Turkish Airlines’ customer service delivery and is just the latest good news for the airline, which saw turnover of £9billion in 2012. THY has stated its goals for 2013 include a five star rating and a £10 billion turnover. The airline’s fortunes will also likely be increased by the news that Istanbul is tending a bid for a new six-runway airport. The first stage of the project is expected to be completed in under four years, and will be able accommodate up to 90 million passengers.
Welcome to the Conference edition of the CFT newsletter.
CFT hosts stand at the Party Conference
Conservative Party is holding its annual conference in Birmingham between Sun 7 – Wed 10 October. We will have an exhibition stand throughout the conference in the Party Zone (stand no: P21). As usual we will have up-to-date information about Turkey, as well as Turkish delight and Turkish wine to sample. We do hope you will able to stop by.
Please contact us if you can help us man the stand – even a couple of hours would be very helpful. Typically hundreds of delegates stop by the CFT stand and it is a unique opportunity to have many quick chats about local politics and/or international affairs.
This past Sunday in Ankara, the AKP staged its fourth congress with the theme “Great nation, great power, vision for 2023.” Prime Minister Erdogan was re-elected as the Party Chairman and Suleyman Soylu, former leader of the Democratic Party (DP) and Numan Kurtulmus, former head of the People’s Voice Party (HAS), were appointed to the party board.
While the Prime Minister pledged to find a solution to the Kurdish issue, it was the Arab Spring which dominated discussions. Khaled Meshaal, exiled political leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, told the congress that Mr Erdogan is “not only a leader in Turkey now, [he is] a leader in the Muslim world as well”.
In his speech, Mr Erdogan urged the international community to act on Syria. He asked China, Iran and Russia to end their support for Assad’s regime, warning that “history will not forgive” their stance in the face of mounting bloodshed. Lacking international support, Turkey recently shut its borders with Syria after accepting nearly 90,000 refugees. (Update: At least five people died when a shell fired from Syria fell in a Turkish border town, adding to the tension between the neighbours)
On 21 September a civilian court convicted 325 former military officers of plotting a coup (‘Sledgehammer’) against the AKP government. Cetin Dogan, former commander of the 1st Army; Ozden Ornek, former commander of the Navy; and Ibrahim Firtina, the former commander of the Air Force; received the highest sentences as the leaders of the Sledgehammer coup plot. The verdict received international attention with The Guardian speculating that Prime Minister Erdogan “is becoming just as authoritarian and over-bearing as the generals once were”.
Clegg leads business delegation to Turkey
Deputy Prime Minister leads business delegation to Turkey for two-day visit, where he holds bilateral meetings with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. Clegg is accompanied by Business Minister Michael Fallon and 18 CEOs and senior executives from companies including Arup, AECOM, Lloyds of London and Cella Energy and is set to announce business ventures potentially worth up to half a billion pounds, including Turkish manufacturer HDM Steel Pipe opening a £7m facility in Cardiff and Turkish hospital group Florence Nightingale establishing their European headquarters in London.
Turkey downgrades annual growth target to 3%
In September, the Turkish Central Bank downgraded Turkey’s annual growth forecast from 4% to 3%. Turkey’s economy grew slower than expected in Q2 and a deeper slowdown is expected during the rest of the year as domestic demand weakens, raising pressure on the central bank to cut borrowing costs more aggressively. GDP grew 2.90% year-on-year, data from the Turkish Statistics Institute showed. Fadi Hakura of Chatham House speculates that enhanced trade with the Middle East may be Turkey’s ticket to reversing this ‘soft landing’: “The share of Turkish trade with the Middle East, expressed as a share of its total trade, rose from 6% in 2002 to 16% in 2010. Assuming the continuation of current trends, Iraq may become Turkey’s top trading partner within one or two years.”
On 24 September Lord Patten raised three parliamentary questions concerning the religious freedom of Alevis in Turkey. Baroness Warsi, Faith and Communities Minister, replied that “together with our European Union partners, we encourage Turkey to make progress on respect for, and tolerance of, minority groups, including the Alawite minority.” Anas Sarwar MP, Robert Buckland MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP also queried human rights in Turkey. Please click here for the full text of the debates.
Turkey wins Olympic gold
At the London 2012 Olympics, Turkey took home five medals, including two gold: one for Asli Cakir Alptekin in track and another for Servet Tazegul in taekwondo. While The New York Times speculated that the games could encourage more women’s athletics in Turkey not all were so enthusiastic: Turkish columnist Yuksel Aytug caused an online firestorm after penning an article in the Sabah that criticized the Olympic Games for “killing womanhood.”
Welcome to the Summer edition of the CFT newsletter.
Summer reception on Wed July 11 7:30pm
This Wednesday, 11 July, we will host our summer reception with Conservative Friends of Poland, bringing together leading figures from politics, business and the media to discuss how to increase political participation in our communities.
We are also delighted that Greg Hands MP, one of our founder members, will speak on community engagement.
The reception will take place at 7:30pm at Sofra Covent Garden, 36 Tavistock St, London WC2E 7PB. Tickets are £25, including drinks and canapés, and can be purchased in advance or at the door.
We very much look forward to seeing you there.
Parliament debates UK-Turkey relations
On 4 July House of Commons held a debate based on Foreign Affairs Committee’s report “UK-Turkey Relations and Turkey’s Regional Role”, covering many topics ranging from EU accession, Cyprus and Syria to human rights issues and UK’s visa regime for Turkish nationals. Good news for UK-Turkey relations included the increase in bilateral trade (exceeded £9bn in 2011) and related initiatives as well as the 14 additional staff that the Foreign Office’s Turkey network was gaining.
The debate in full can be read here, a recording on Parliament TV is also available.
On 5 July, Manaf Tlass, a Syrian general defected, stopping in Turkey before flying to Paris. He is the highest-ranking military official to abandon Assad since the uprising in Syria began more than 15 months ago.
His defection follows 22 June incident when Syria shot down one of Turkey’s fighter jet planes, killing two soldiers. Assad later explained Syria mistakenly thought the jet belonged to Israel: “We learned it belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100% ‘if only we had not shot it down’,” Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted him as saying. “We are in a state of war, so every unidentified plane is an enemy plane.”
The two deceased Turkish soldiers were buried on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey continue to swell. On 6 July Reuters reported two children were killed in a fire in one of the camps. There are now 35,000 Syrians living in camps in Turkey along the Syrian border.
Turkey grows at 3.2% in Q1
On 2 July the Financial Times reported that Turkey’s economy expanded at 3.2 per cent in the first quarter. This followed growth of 5.2 per cent in the final quarter of last year, confirming for some that Turkey’s economy is heading towards a “soft landing”. Last year, the Turkish economy was the fastest growing in Europe.
Turkey’s Eurovision star
On a lighter note, the New York Times profiled Turkish singer Can Bonomo last month. Having represented Turkey in the 2012 Eurovision competition, Bonomo discusses why he chooses to write and sing in English and what influences his music. The interview in full can be read here.
Welcome to the Autumn edition of the CFT newsletter.
London Mayor Election on May 3
Elections for London Mayor and the London Assembly will take place on Thursday, 3 May. BackBoris2012 is an interactive, grassroots campaign, and with a variety of events in all London boroughs, it is a great way to get more involved. You can make a difference with just an hour or two of your time: leafleting at Tube stations, knocking on doors on the election day, or ringing voters along with senior Tories. Please get in touch if you want to join us and help the campaign.
Turkey and Syria
A fragile ceasefire is in place in Syria but tensions are high in Turkey after the cross-border gunfire at the refugee camp and as the number of refugees reached nearly 25,000. Prime Minister Erdogan repeated calls for UN action against Syria, and referred to Article 5 of the Nato treaty, which calls an attack on one Nato member like Turkey an attack on all members (Daily Telegraph). Istanbul recently hosted the Friends of Syria, with ministers from more than 70 Western and Arab countries seeking to increase pressure on President Assad. Senior commanders of the armed Syrian opposition groups are also based in Turkey.
A analysis by Reuters can be found here, and an Op Ed by CFT member Dr Gulnur Aybet compares the current dilemma of the international community with Bosnia in 1992 (Today’s Zaman). Oxford professor Timothy Garton Ash looks at the issue from a historian’s viewpoint (Guardian).
Meanwhile over the last weekend the P5+1 group (UK, China, France, Russia, US plus Germany) gathered in Istanbul to negotiate with Iran on its nuclear program. The talks were reported to be ‘constructive’, and the parties agreed to reconvene in Baghdad on 23 May (Bloomberg).
Foreign Affairs Committee publishes Turkey report
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee has published its report on UK-Turkey relations and Turkey’s regional role. Covering a wide range of issues from Turkey’s domestic politics and human rights to the Arab Spring and EU accession, the Committee concludes that there is significant potential to expand UK-Turkey economic relations as well as the foreign policy partnership.
Welcome to the Autumn edition of the CFT newsletter.
Turkish President Gul visits UK
President Abdullah Gul was in the UK for a 3-day state visit last week. Welcomed by the Queen, the Turkish head of state attended a state banquet at the Buckingham Palace, had detailed talks with Prime Minister Cameron, delivered Wilton Park’s inaugural annual address, and gave speeches at the CBI annual conference and at the Parliament. You can find the transcripts of all his speeches here.
During the course of the visit, Foreign Minister Hague gave more details about the “new special relationship” between Britain and Turkey in a Daily Telegraph article.
Turkey imposes economic sanctions on Syria
After a call for President Assad to step down in an unusually harsh tone, Turkey imposed a range of sanctions on Syria, suspending all financial credit dealings with the country and freezing Syrian government assets. A BBC article provides further analysis on the escalating pressure.
Turkey-UK Strategic Partnership fringe event
If you missed our fringe event at the Party Conference, with Europe Minister Lidington and international relations expert Dr Aybet, you can find the notes here.
Welcome to the conference edition of the CFT newsletter.
CFT at the Party Conference – Fringe Event on Mon, Oct 3 5:30pm
We will not have an exhibition stand this year, but we do hope you will be able to join us for a reception and panel discussion with Rt Hon David Lidington MP, in Manchester Central, Exchange 10:
“Turkey-UK Strategic Partnership in a Changing World”
A new Turkey-UK Strategic Partnership agreement was signed by Prime Ministers Erdogan and Cameron in 2010. How will the two countries respond to the challenges that emerged since then? How can the relations be further strengthened?
Moderator: HE Unal Cevikoz, Turkish Ambassador to the UK
Speakers: Rt Hon David Lidington MP, Minister for Europe, Dr Gulnur Aybet, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Kent
Monday Oct 3, 5:30-7pm, Manchester Central, Exchange 10
Food and drinks will be served. Please note that as this event will be in the secure zone, a conference pass will be required.
CEG Fringe Event – “Europe and the Lessons from Libya”
Co-organisers of our May event (please find the notes here if you missed it) Conservative Europe Group-CEG has a fringe event earlier on Monday which may be of interest:
“Europe and the Lessons from Libya”, jointly held with CEG, European Union of Women and Nucleus
with Tobias Ellwood MP, Peter Wilding and Dr Gulnur Aybet
Chair: John Bowis OBE
Monday 3 October 2011, 12.45pm
Venue: Central 4, Manchester Central
Turkey in the News
Turkish foreign policy has been in the news frequently in the last few weeks, from Turkey’s relations with Israel (The Telegraph) and the Arab world (The Economist) to a gas related dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean (Reuters).
In the business news, Standard and Poor’s upgraded Turkey’s local currency rating to investment grade (Bloomberg).
Welcome to the Spring edition of the CFT newsletter.
Panel discussion on May 10 – Cooperation with Turkey
CFT and the Young Conservative Europe Group (YCEG) are pleased to invite you to a panel to discuss the developments in British & European cooperation with Turkey – covering foreign policy, trade and civil society.
Moderator: Lord Inglewood
Panellists: John Peet, Europe Editor of the Economist; Maurice Fraser, Senior Fellow in European Politics, LSE; Richard Balfe, former MEP
Tuesday 10th May 2011, 5.30pm for 6pm prompt start
Venue: Conference Room, Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU.
Tickets £10 for members of YCEG/CEG, CFT, TRG, and the EUW, and are priced at £12.50 for guests.
Refreshments before and after the discussion included.
Please RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org and pay at the door, or download the RSVP slip to pay in advance.
AV Referendum on May 5
Please note that the deadline to register to vote in the AV referendum and the local elections is Thursday April 14. Below is a message from the Conservative Party on the referendum:
“A ‘yes’ vote in the AV referendum on May 5th would be a disaster for our democratic system. It would mean candidates who finish third winning elections, and an end to the principle of One Person, One Vote – because under AV, supporters of extreme parties would get their vote counted more times than supporters of mainstream parties. So we need to do all we can to ensure a ‘No’ vote on May 5th – which is why I’m asking you to please join The No to AV Group today”.
Turkey in the news
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was in London on March 31 to discuss a variety of issues with Prime Minister Cameron – full transcript of their joint press conference can be found here.
The Economist discusses the upcoming Turkish general election (June 2011) and the renewed interest in the “Turkish model” after the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.
Turkish economy beats expectations and grows by %8.9 in 2010.
Welcome to the conference edition of the CFT newsletter.
CFT hosts stand at the Party Conference
Conservative Party is holding its 127th annual conference in Birmingham between Sunday 3rd – Wednesday 6th October. 13,500 delegates are expected.
CFT will have an exhibition stand throughout the conference at Hall 3 (no 123). The stand will feature up-to-date information about Turkey, as well as Turkish delight and Turkish wine to sample. Please feel free to stop by anytime to meet CFT volunteers and have a chat.
Turkey in the media
Turkish voters backed a package of constitutional changes in a referendum held on Sep 12th (58% in favour, 77% turnout). While some see the package as a major improvement to the 1982 constitution, others think some of the amendments will lead to excessive government influence over the judiciary. A Financial Times editorial and The Economist discuss both viewpoints.
Foreign Secretary Rt Hon William Hague MP and Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb on Turkey and EU: Financial Times
Welcome to the summer edition of the CFT newsletter.
Cameron visits Turkey
Prime Minister David Cameron made his fifth overseas trip (after France, Germany, Afghanistan and the U.S.) to Turkey between 26-27 July, underlining the importance the Government attaches to relations between Turkey and Britain.
Speaking in Ankara, Cameron declared himself the strongest possible advocate of Turkey’s membership to EU. He said those who oppose Turkish accession fell into three categories: “protectionists” who see Turkey’s growing economic power as a threat, “the polarised” who think the country should choose between East and West, and the “prejudiced” who “willfully misunderstand Islam”. He urged Turkey to continue EU reforms.
Cameron also asked Turkey for more help to “stop Iran from getting the bomb”, called on Israel to improve the situation in Gaza, and encouraged a continuing Turkey-Israel friendship.
Repeating his commitment to change the climate for trade and investment in Britain, the Prime Minister said British business should be more ambitious in developing new markets and that he wants to double UK trade with Turkey, currently $9 billion a year, over the next five years.
Full text of his speech is here.
Welcome to the election edition of the CFT newsletter.
General Election called for May 6 – how CFT can help
CFT has been actively contributing to several election campaigns with fundraising events held for City of London and Westminster, Westminster North, Lancaster and Fleetwood, and Enfield Council candidates. With a few weeks left until May 6, we can further help by:
* Providing volunteers for canvassing and other campaign activities
* Sending letters to Turkish speaking voters in your constituency
* Helping with answering questions related to Turkey and Turks in the UK
Every vote counts
We encourage all CFT members to vote and spread the word to increase participation in this election. There is a large number of marginal seats and every vote will count.
Please let us know if you want to be actively involved in the campaigns. There are various ways you can contribute, and it will be an invaluable experience to be at the heart of this crucial election.
Welcome to the tenth edition of the CFT newsletter.
CFT and TEAS hold roundtable with Azerbaijani Energy Minister
CFT and the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) organised a half-day meeting on Jan 27 to discuss Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s roles in securing reliable energy supplies, as well as opportunities for investment in both countries with a focus on the domestic energy market. Keynote speaker was Natiq Aliyev, Minister of Energy and Industry of Azerbaijan. The discussion was in an intimate roundtable format with a select group of participants: policymakers, investors and representatives from the energy industry. Details are in this Press Release.
Fundraising Dinner for Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina
The Fund for Refugees, a charity aiming to build homes for the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre, is holding a fundraising dinner in London on Feb 23. Shadow Foreign Secretary Rt Hon William Hague MP will be the keynote speaker. Tickets are priced at £250pp. Please contact us (email@example.com) for more information.
British Foreign Policy towards Turkey
In response to a question from Nicholas Soames MP, asking what aims and objectives had been set for UK foreign policy in respect of Turkey, Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant answered:
“The UK has four key objectives as regards to Turkey. Firstly, to support Turkey’s EU accession process, which strongly benefits both the EU and Turkey. Secondly, we support internal reform in Turkey to enhance the democratic process to protect human rights especially those of minorities. Thirdly, to engage with Turkey on regional issues, which include Cyprus, Afghanistan, the Middle East peace process, Iran, and Iraq. Fourthly, we aim to co-operate on key international issues, such as climate change and energy security.”
Turkey Hosts International Summits on Afghanistan in Istanbul
Turkey hosted two high-level international summits on Afghanistan in Istanbul, preparing the groundwork for the conference on Afghanistan in London on 28th January. The Turkish, Afghan and Pakistani Presidents met in Istanbul on 25th January for the fourth trilateral summit of its kind which aimed to improve relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Turkish government also hosted a regional summit on Afghanistan the following day, with the aim of ensuring regional commitment to sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
The regional summit was attended by top-level policymakers from countries in the region, Britain and the US, as well as the representatives of international organisations. Britain was represented by Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Turkish officials have been working behind the scenes to improve relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Turkey has also promised to deploy a further 1000 troops to Afghanistan, in addition to the 1700 already deployed.
Turkish Foreign Minister visits Britain
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Britain on 12th January, holding talks with Foreign Secretary David Miliband in London. One of the main subjects of the talks was Afghanistan while the issues of Iran’s nuclear programme and Cyprus were also discussed.
On Afghanistan, Mr Davutoglu said that Turkey could play a key role in helping reconciliation within Afghanistan due to its historical cultural and ethnic links with the country. Mr Davutoglu also called on Britain to actively engage in accelerating the negotiations over Cyprus, saying, “We stand at a historical turning point in the Cyprus issue. We expect that all sides make positive contributions to talks in Cyprus…we have reached an historic moment in the negotiations. That’s one reason for coming to London now.” Mr Miliband said that 2010 was a “key year” and an opportunity for Cypriots to make “historic steps forward”.
On Iran, Mr Davutoglu said: “The situation in Iran is not good, it is not compatible with our vision. We don’t want nuclear proliferation in the region.” However, he added: “I am not pessimistic, as long as we do not make statements against each other,” and emphasised that Turkey would be willing to facilitate engagement with Iran.
Mr Miliband spoke of “close partnership and friendship” between Britain and Turkey and their “shared goals”, and said that with Turkey now a member of the UN Security Council, the two countries will be working “even more closely together”.
Turkish EU Negotiator promotes Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture at Viennese Ball
Turkish State Minister and Chief EU Negotiator Egemen Bagis attended the traditional ball of Austrian businessmen in Vienna on 23rd January. The ball at Hofburg Palace was held under the theme ‘Istanbul, 2010 European Capital of Culture, in Vienna.’
Brigitte Jank, host of the ball and chair of the Economic Chamber of Vienna, said that Istanbul was chosen as this year’s theme as it is the European capital of culture in 2010. Taking the floor at the ball, Egemen Bagis invited guests to visit the city. Istanbul will host more than 500 cultural events this year as the European capital of culture.
Younger people more supportive of Turkish EU membership
Young Europeans back Turkey’s EU bid more than elder ones, according to results of a new survey. The survey entitled ‘How Turkey’s EU bid was seen in five European countries: France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Poland’ is a joint project by Bogazici University’s Centre for European Studies, the Autonomous University of Madrid and the University of Granada. The results showed that age and generation were the most significant variables when it comes to views on Turkey’s EU accession.
Bogazici University Professor Hakan Yilmaz said: “Support grows as age goes down, and it becomes less as age rises. When we look at the countries, support is over 50 percent in Spain and Poland, and around 46 percent in Britain. However, it is quite a lot less in Germany and France…culture is one of the most important factors that defines perception of Turkey…the most important argument for those who culturally do not want Turkey in the EU is that religion and religion-based differences keep Turkey out of Europe’s cultural circle.” Professor Yilmaz said half of university graduates supported Turkey’s EU bid but support diminished among respondents with a lower level of educational achievement.