British lords support Turkey’s ‘right to self-defense’

British lords support Turkey’s ‘right to self-defense’

İpek Yezdani - ISTANBUL
British lords support Turkey’s ‘right to self-defense’

It is the Turkish government’s right and responsibility to defend itself, a group of visiting members of the British House of Lords have said after a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“It is not just the right of any government to defend and look after its own people, it is actually a responsibility. All of us will agree with that; this is the first responsibility of any government,” Lord Stuart Polak told a group of Turkish journalists.

Polak and three other members of the British House of Lords, who were invited to Turkey by the Istanbul-based NGO Bosphorus Global met with other high-ranking Turkish government officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.

“Turkey has the right to defend itself. If people are attacking its territory and killing some of its citizens, they are perfectly entitled to defend themselves,” said Nobel Laureate Lord David Trimble.

Part of the reason why Britain was reluctant to authorize direct intervention in Syria and deploy troops in Syria is “the fluidity of the situation,” he added.

“What is the precise affiliation of these organizations? They seem to change; they shift their positions. So we can support Turkey in defending its borders, but we found ourselves reluctant to rush to a military situation that we don’t fully understand,” Trimble said.

The relationship between the U.K. and Turkey has been having the potential for strategic partnership,” Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones said.

“And that’s what we would like to help develop. This is not just an ordinary relationship; we would like to see it have rather more significant status for most partners. There is obviously a growing trade relationship which even in quite difficult times have moved forward on both sides. We see a good basis to move forward there. We see a lot of potential in the relationship. Our aim is to increase the dialogue. Our aim is to really see flourishing relationship between the two countries,” she said.

Lord James Arbuthnot said their meeting with Erdoğan took longer than scheduled. “We raised a lot of issues that were important. One of the issues we discussed was what is happening in Syria at the moment,” he said.

“We won’t always be in agreement with you on the definition of what groups form terrorist groups and what don’t, but in order to have a closer relationship between Turkey and the U.K., we need to have discussions like that. In the U.K., there are frequent references in the press to whether the press in Turkey is free, what the state of human rights is in Turkey. A close relationship will allow us to discuss these things in an open way,” he added.