How would you evaluate the current state of relations between Turkey and the United Kingdom?
Our relations with the UK advance within a framework of continuity, marked by consistency and stability. The strategic partnership between Turkey and the UK and our mutual membership in NATO are invaluable assets for Europe in the current context of global instability, replete with security risks and other challenges. Sharing similar views on leading regional and international issues, Turkey and the UK contribute to efforts that aim to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in Europe and beyond.
Brexit of course is a major development that importantly also impacts our ties. The UK had been a steady and staunch supporter of Turkey’s accession bid. We have to make adjustments. Thus we are jointly working to develop new modalities for our relationship and put our ties in a new setting that will allow us to further strengthen our partnership.
Turkey and the UK continue to maintain their official contacts at the highest level. British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Turkey last January upon my invitation. This visit served as proof of our mutual commitment and will sustain a strong relationship in the new setting after Brexit. The steps agreed during that visit to further enhance our defence industry cooperation were major and significant. We deeply appreciate that the UK displayed its will to promote defence cooperation clearly and without hesitation at a time when some other allies have been busy imposing various restrictions against us.
Could you give any information about your upcoming visit to the USA?
First of all, we are very sorry for the terrorist attack that took place in New York on 31st October. We condemn it on the strongest terms.
We will be visiting Washington DC and New York next week to meet with Vice President Mike Pence. The preparations have been under way for a long time. We will talk in detail about issues on our common agenda. In addition to bilateral issues, we will discuss Syria, Iraq, the migration crises and our fight against terrorism and terrorist organizations like FETO, PYD/YPG and DEASH.
We will also meet with business circles, opinion leaders and members of the press.
What is your assessment on relations with the USA and the suspension of visa services?
We think that it is possible to solve the important problems with the USA via existing dialogue channels. In this scope, our contacts continue at all levels. This issue will also be on our agenda during our visit to the USA.
Our priority is to deepen our cooperation in fight against terrorism and take joint actions against PKK and DEASH terrorist organizations.
We continue our efforts with the USA to solve the visa crisis, which effects both countries’ citizens as soon as possible.
Could you share information on current developments about Iraq / KRG?
Last week we had useful meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi and his accompanying delegation. We are very grateful for our Iraqi brothers’ steps towards unity and integrity of the country.
All they want is the re-establishment of constitutional authority. The Iraqi army, which has been executing joint military exercise with the Turkish army at the border line, crossed the border from Habur and took the control of Ibrahim Khalil gate.
We welcome the re-establishment of constitutional order at the border gate by the Iraqi Government. It is commendable that this takeover was performed peacefully, without violence.
Things are getting normalized in Iraq. We believe that arbitrary treatment and taxation towards our carriers will be lifted.
We had promised our Iraqi brothers to provide the necessary support in order to restore the authority of the Government at the borders of KRG. Thus, we kept our promise.
Can we learn about your opinion on the developments in Catalonia?
Spain is going through tough times following the referendum attempt in Catalonia on 1st October.
I had a phone conversation with the Prime Minister of Spain, Mr. Rajoy I stressed our support to the territorial integrity and unity of Spain.
We had already declared that we do not recognize unilateral attempts.
Spain is a friend and ally. What matters for us is the unity and territorial integrity of its country. This is a domestic issue for Spain. Our only counterpart is the Government of Spain.