UNION JACKS and Turkish flags displayed together on the Mall presented a spectacular sight during last year’s state visit to London from the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül. The first ever Imperial visit abroad by an Ottoman Sultan was paid to the UK by Sultan Abdulaziz in 1867, indicating the importance Turkey attached to this country. nearly 150 years later, President Gül’s visit again symbolised the ongoing friendship and business ties between the two countries.
After the recent signing of a strategic Partnership with the Uk, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that ‘this is the golden age of Turkey-United kingdom relations,’ while Uk Prime Minister David cameron stated that ‘Turkey is vital for our economy, vital for our security and vital for our politics and our diplomacy.’ The Uk is Turkey’s second largest partner for imports and the second largest investor in Turkey; major British investors already have a strong presence there. as tourism and travel links grow, so does the understanding between the two nations.
However, while the Uk continues to strengthen this bilateral alliance, the EU holds Turkey’s accession aspirations at an arm’s length. of the 35 chapters of negotiation necessary for Turkey to attain EU membership, 18 have been frozen. Making matters worse, a recent survey found that a mere 17 per cent of Turks support joining the EU, down from 78 per cent in 2004.
Turkey’s dynamic economic growth stands in stark contrast to the stagnation that persists across much of Europe. a recent Pricewaterhousecoopers’ report, ‘The World in 2050,’ names Turkey as one of the E7 economies (china, india, Brazil, Russia, indonesia, Mexico and Turkey) surpassing the current G7 countries. Turkey also enjoys crucial diplomatic reach into areas where the EU’s influence is, and simply must be, much less powerful. Turkey’s position at a vital crossroads between East and West suggests that the EU should think again.
On the date of the 89th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, Diplomat has worked in close cooperation with the Turkish Embassy in London to produce this special report on the country, tackling these issues with thought-provoking contributions from the Turkish ambassador in London; former cabinet Minister Jack straw; the Director of chatham House; the chairman of akbank, Turkey’s investment and support agency; the chief Executive of Uk Trade & investment and the chair of İstanbul Modern. We also hear from the Uk Turkish Tourism and culture office on their plans to boost visitor numbers to 50 million by 2023, exactly 100 years since the founding of the Turkish Republic.
Closer to home, Diplomat touches on the ongoing diplomatic dispute over Julian assange. The problem for both Britain and Ecuador is that neither side can easily break the deadlock, even as the propaganda war over assange continues to heat up. We are also grateful to have one of the world’s leading strategic intelligence and risk management consultancies, kcs, write for us this month on the volatile situation in kenya. Violence has become a problem since a persistent cross-border terror campaign began against multiple kenyan targets by somalia-based al shabaab insurgents. as a result, kenya’s tourism industry, the second largest source of the nation’s foreign exchange revenue, is facing devastation today.
as always, Diplomat reviews the credentials of new heads of mission to the court of st James’s, this month meeting with the High commissioner for Belize. For our series of photographic portraits, we feature His Excellency Federico Trillo-Figueroa Martínez-conde, ambassador of spain.
in the lifestyle section, Diplomat visits Devon’s south sands hotel and enjoys a stay in one of London’s few remaining bastions of great British hospitality, The stafford London by kempinski in st James. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and art reviews, including details of the fabulous Marilyn Monroe exhibition the national Portrait Gallery.
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