After hosting Theresa May last week, Turkey has now turned its sites to the US. An apparently fruitful conversation on security and trade relations between presidents Trump and Erdoğan has been followed up this week with a visit to Ankara by the new director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.
For the UK this development is important. The prime minister’s diplomatic balancing act in Turkey last week was instructive, signing a £100m fighter jet deal tempered with constructive criticism on human rights. That political tightrope may become even more taut should the US and Turkey reshape their bilateral relationship, especially with regards to the Middle East – the key point of discussion for the Pompeo visit.
Yet this is also an opportunity for Britain. Turkey’s shifting position in relation to the US and the EU offers the UK a chance to rebuild and prove its credentials as a positive influence in global diplomacy. If the UK can build on last week’s meeting it can position itself as a constructive, and perhaps moderating, partner for Turkey, in its relations with both the US and with the EU, while also building a strong trade relationship with one of our most critical post-Brexit partners.
Turkey represents Nato’s largest military force after the US and is, despite recent events, still a bulwark of stability in a turbulent region, where it is a comparatively predictable ally for the UK and EU. It continues to be immensely helpful for the EU in tackling its refugee crisis….