Eyeing increased trade with Turkey, British PM meets with Erdoğan

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On January 28, 2017, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) sits with British Prime Minister Theresa May / AFP PHOTO

In her first visit to Ankara as head of government and following a meeting with US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK and Turkey would increase trade, after a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday.

Amid criticism of human rights violations in Turkey following a botched coup on July 15, May briefly touched upon the issue of democracy when speaking with reporters at the presidential palace in Ankara. Praising the Turkish people’s defense of democracy against the coup attempt, she said, “I’m proud that the UK stood with you on July 15 last year in defense of democracy.”

She also added that “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.”

May has been looking for alternative trade deals in the post-Brexit era. The UK voted to leave the European Union in a June 2016 referendum which requires new agreements with all EU members.

May and Erdoğan also reportedly discussed issues of Cyprus and Syria.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Middle East analyst Patrick Cockburn wrote in the Independent that the talks with Erdoğan will be seen as endorsing the destruction of Turkish democracy. He claimed that Erdoğan is replacing democracy with a presidential system as dictatorial and repressive as anything seen in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s.

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