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Two UK high-level visits to Turkey: what are the issues on the agenda?


The growing diplomatic traffic, a week before the NATO summit, has made Ankara, which has not yet given the green light to the accession of Sweden and Finland, one of the most frequented. Among the last visitors of this traffic are two British ministers. After British Foreign Minister Liz Truss, who came to Ankara yesterday, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace will be in the capital today. The two ministers will meet separately with their Turkish counterparts.

Topics include the NATO membership of the two Scandinavian countries and the creation of a grain corridor over the Black Sea.

The meetings of the two important cabinet ministers in Ankara on the same day are notable in that they come just after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 21.

In a brief presidential statement, it was noted that Erdogan and Johnson discussed bilateral relations, war with Russia and Ukraine, and grain withdrawal from Ukraine.

In the statement made in London, it was said that the two leaders discussed the issue of food security, and Prime Minister Johnson expressed satisfaction with the leadership shown by Turkey in overcoming the issue.

Contrary to the statement of the Turkish side, London agreed with Erdogan that the two leaders also discussed the NATO summit to be held in Madrid at the end of the month, that Johnson supported the participation of Sweden and Finland to the alliance and that all parties should continue to work together to find a solution to the problem. It was pointed out that there was agreement.

These two issues are expected to come to the fore again in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine during the meetings to be held in Ankara by the foreign and defense ministers.

The summit to be held in Madrid is of great significance for Britain, which is one of the countries that has taken the toughest stance against Russia in the NATO alliance.

The new strategic concept document is expected to be approved at the summit, where the military and political steps to be taken by the alliance after Russia’s war with Ukraine will be discussed.

NATO countries also plan to announce their commitments to further support Ukraine’s defense in the ongoing war at the summit.


As Prime Minister Johnson expressed it, London, which strongly supports the participation of Sweden and Finland in the alliance, wants the membership process to be completed quickly and these two important Scandinavian countries to become members, as other allies.

Ben Wallace and Hulusi Akar

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British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace met his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, in Istanbul in April.

London predicts that the decision on Sweden and Finland, which is supposed to make a significant contribution to the alliance’s northern wing militarily, will be taken at the Madrid summit, which will be held on June 29-30, as an important message to Russia.

British Defense Secretary Wallace, in a statement he made last week, said he would discuss the matter again with Turkish officials during his visit to Turkey this week, and that the reservations of the Turkey should be listened to.

England finds Turkey’s demands, particularly Sweden’s, to “restrict the activities of the terrorist organization and to be more effective in the fight against terrorism” reasonable and expects the negotiations between the parties reach a positive result.

However, England, who want the Madrid summit to focus on this issue and not turn into a crisis within the alliance, are pursuing their suggestions to resolve the issue through appropriate diplomatic channels.

One of the messages conveyed to Ankara is that Turkey attended the summit with rhetoric that would conditionally open the door to Scandinavian countries instead of a firm veto.

For Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, in addition to government approvals, the parliaments of the 30 member states must also approve. It is assessed that this situation can buy time for both Turkey and Sweden and Finland to meet Turkey’s expectations.

The messages addressed to Ankara also include the negative effects of the blocking of the Madrid summit under the Turkish veto. Concerns are frequently expressed that this situation could damage Turkey’s reputation within the alliance.


Another important issue in the talks to be held in Ankara is the resumption of grain exports from Ukraine to world markets.

Supporting efforts to prevent a global food crisis, the UK will put the issue on the agenda, including in contacts with Foreign Secretary Truss.

Ships in the Black Sea

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Speaking in parliament ahead of his visit to Turkey, Truss noted that there were a few weeks left for the withdrawal of Ukrainian grain from the country: “We are doing our best with our allies to ensure that Odessa is fully defended and to ensure a safe passage. . To talk about how we can get the grain out of Odessa. I will go to Turkey,” he said.

Ukraine mined the port area to prevent the Russian Navy from attacking Odessa. It is recorded that there are more than 80 ships laden with grain waiting to be sailed into the port.

Ukraine does not like the idea of ​​demining in the event of a possible attack. Turkey is also conducting military talks with Russia and Ukraine to overcome this problem.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced last week that ways to carry out this operation before demining were under consideration.


Bilateral relations are also expected to be discussed at the meetings to be held in Ankara, and defense ministers in particular are expected to assess the newly developed cooperation in the defense industry.

Britain lifted the partial arms embargo against Turkey in recent months, and this situation was held up as an example for other NATO countries by Ankara.

It is expected that the parties will also discuss developments in Syria within the framework of other regional issues.

Turkey has strong messages that it can launch new military operations in Tel Rifat and Manbij areas in northern Syria.

It is claimed that England, like other Western countries, is cold towards such an operation and is worried about the consequences it will cause.

Source: Cumhuriyet

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