Remarks by PM Theresa May at the Press Conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim
28 January 2017
Thank you very much. And I am pleased to be here in Turkey today and to be able to meet Prime Minister Yildirim and President Erdogan just one day after meeting the new US President Donald Trump in Washington.
The relationship between Turkey and the United Kingdom has always been important, but it is arguably even more vital today.
For Turkey sits on the frontline of some of the most difficult and serious challenges we face.
This relationship is central to our capacity to tackle the terrorist threat to the UK. Turkey already does a huge amount to disrupt the threat posed to our countries by terrorists including foreign fighters leaving Syria.
And today, we have agreed to strengthen our co-operation on security through a new strategic security partnership. This will help our two governments and security services to work even more closely together in important areas such as intelligence sharing, aviation security and domestic security.
This partnership will help Turkey as it grapples with the threat posed by heightened terrorist attacks in this country. We should never forget that in the last 18 months, over 1,500 Turkish civilians and security personnel have been killed by terrorist attacks.
Crucially, it will also help to protect the 1.7 million British tourists who travel to Turkey from the UK every year.
It is therefore a vital new partnership for us both.
We have also discussed a number of other important regional security issues today including:
Syria, where we are working together to fight Daesh and create the conditions for peace, the challenge of mass migration, where I pay tribute to Turkey’s generosity in hosting more than 3 million refugees from surrounding countries, and where the United Kingdom is committed to doing all it can to help.
And Cyprus, where we are both committed to playing our full part in an effort to secure an early agreement.
Finally, I am delighted that we have today been able to mark the signing of a new agreement between TAI and the British business BAE Systems that will see the companies collaborating on the pre-design phase of Turkey’s new fighter jet, the TFX.
This is more than a trade deal – it is the start of a deep defence partnership that will contribute to our overall security.
At the same time, we are today announcing a new and unique government-to-government agreement between Turkey and the United Kingdom that sets a new framework for cooperation and dialogue between our governments including the defence ministries and air forces.
And we have also agreed to establish a trade working group to explore ways in which we can improve Turkish-UK trade.
These initiatives stand as concrete commitments to a strengthened relationship between us, which will help to ensure the continued security and prosperity of both Turkey and the UK.
This is the first opportunity I have had to visit Turkey since the attempted coup of 15th July last year. On that day, the UK was clear that we supported those who stood up for this important democracy and its institutions. And we continue to hope that the values you stood for on that day will guide you in the months and years ahead.
So I would like to thank Prime Minister Yildirim for giving up his time today so that we might discuss these important issues.
On each one, Turkey is demonstrating its determination to live up to its historic role as a regional power, and its significance as a key member of the NATO Alliance.
I look forward to building on the commitments we have made today in order to strengthen the cooperation between our two nations in the years ahead.