British PM May urges rule of law in fight against Turkish coup plotters
AA photoBritish Prime Minister Theresa May cautiously warned Turkey on human rights following last year’s failed coup attempt in a visit to Ankara.
Speaking to reporters at the Presidential Palace in Ankara alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, May called Turkey “one of Britain’s oldest friends.”
“I’m proud that the U.K. stood with you on July 15 last year in defense of democracy. Now it is important that Turkey sustains that democracy by maintaining the rule of law and upholding its international human rights obligations as the government has undertaken to do,” she said.
May said she had brought up human rights directly with President Erdoğan in their talks.
Her visit was the first to Ankara by a major Western leader since the failed coup attempt, although then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden held talks with Erdoğan in August.
Erdoğan and May, who later met with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, also discussed the battle against jihadists in Syria and efforts to reunify Cyprus, where both Ankara and London are guarantor powers, as well as aviation security.
“Turkey sits on the frontline of some of the most difficult challenges we face,” said May, adding the relationship is essential to help Britain tackle the terror threat.
For his part, Yıldırım said he requested legal action against supporters of the coup, who he said are active in Britain.
The fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq was also on the agenda during May’s talks with Erdoğan and Yıldırım.
Turkey wants a different approach in its cooperation with the U.S.-led coalition forces in the region, Erdoğan said.
“[May’s visit] is very important for Turkey and the U.K. in terms of Syria and Iraq. We want to have a different approach towards the cooperation between coalition forces and Turkey,” he added.
May also discussed the recently-held Astana talks as well as the upcoming Geneva talks at the end of February, both of which aim to find a political solution in Syria.
Astana talks were brokered by Turkey, Russia and Iran, whereas the Geneva talks will take place under the auspices of the U.N.
The British premier said Turkey and the U.K. were trying to create conditions for “peace” as well as continue their fight against ISIL in Syria.