May 17 2018

Visit of Turkey’s Erdoğan to UK backfired - journalist

Contrary to what has been said in the pro-government media in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s three-day official visit to Britain this week has turned out to be counterproductive, London-based journalist Firdevs Robison said on her website.

She said that apart from supportive lead articles in the conservative Times and the Daily Telegraph newspapers, British Prime Minister Theresa May and her government were intensely criticised for inviting Erdoğan in the run-up to Turkish presidential and parliamentary on June 24. 

Human rights and press freedom organisations meanwhile urged May to publicly call for the release of more than 100 journalists jailed in Turkey and protests took place throughout Erdoğan’s visit.

“The protests in London made it clear that President Erdoğan cannot simply carry on with business as usual and expect there to be no public pressure when he travels to democratic countries,” Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director for Reporters Without Borders told Robinson. 

Vincent said that, although rights organisations were happy that May had talked about the need for Turkey to uphold democratic values and human rights during her joint press conference with Erdoğan on Tuesday, she had not specifically asked for the release of the journalists and had let Erdoğan label those journalists as terrorists. 

“We will continue urging the UK government to strengthen its position when it comes to human rights and fundamental freedoms in its bilateral relations with Turkey,” Vincent said.

The visit was also not a success in the business front. Robinson said that, business circles that had overlooked Erdoğan’s unorthodox views about monetary policies in the past were worried after Erdoğan repeated those ideas during his meetings with investment funds, banks, and companies said they found Erdoğan’s economic vision scary.