Turkey and the UK have signed ‘vital’ new defence agreement

Published January 29th, 2017 - 08:00 GMT
British prime minister Theresa May and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday. (AFP/File)
British prime minister Theresa May and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday. (AFP/File)

Turkey and the U.K. agreed on Saturday to build strong and "vital" strategic partnership in defense and economy.

Speaking at a joint press conference alongside his British counterpart Theresa May at the prime ministry following a meeting in Ankara, Saturday, Binali Yildirim said: "We had a comprehensive meeting and discussed our bilateral relations including security and economy. We saw a common will to enhance relations.”

He said both countries agreed to strengthen relations further globally and bilaterally.

Yildirim said that the U.K. signed a framework contract with Turkey to design new fighter jets for Turkey and this step will help take cooperation in defense to a further stage.

He also said Turkey will have a free trade agreement with the U.K. following the latter's exit from the EU.

Drawing on the U.K.'s relationship with Turkey, the British PM said, “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 U.K. Turkey already does a huge amount to disrupt the threat posed to our countries by terrorists including foreign fighters leaving Syria,” she added.

Both countries have agreed to strengthen their cooperation 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," she said, characterising it "a vital new partnership" for both countries.

May went to add, “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 defense ministries and air forces.”

She said the signing of a new agreement between Turkey's TAI and the British company BAE Systems will see the companies collaborating on the pre-design phase of Turkey’s new fighter jet, the TFX.

She added, “this is more than a trade deal – it is the start of a deep defense partnership that will contribute to our overall security.”

“We have also agreed to establish a trade working group to explore ways in which we can improve Turkish-U.K. trade,” she stressed.

She highlighted the importance of steps taken, saying, “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 U.K.”

Both PMs have also discussed a number of other important regional security issues on Saturday including Syria and Cyprus.

Regarding Syria, where both countries are working together to fight Daesh and create the conditions for peace, the challenge of mass migration, she said, “The United Kingdom is committed to doing all it can to help.”

On Cyprus, she mentioned both countries’ determination to play their full part in an effort to secure an early agreement.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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