London, January 19, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Thanasis Gavos
The Prime Ministers of Turkey and the UK reaffirmed the strong multi-level links between their countries during a visit to London by Ahmet Davutoglu, on the eve of his much discussed participation in this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.
Welcoming his visitor to 10 Downing Street, David Cameron said he was receiving a “good friend” and hailed the “very strong” economic and political relationship that has been built between the two countries over the last few years.
Mr Davutoglu described the bilateral relations as “excellent” and commented that the meeting would accelerate all aspects of cooperation between Turkey and Britain.
The main issues on the agenda were Syria, ISIS, the refugee crisis and Cyprus. According to a Downing Street spokesperson, Prime Minister Cameron welcomed Turkey’s announcement to introduce work permits for Syrian refugees, highlighting this as the type of action needed as part of the international response and encouraging its swift implementation.
Looking ahead to the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference, to be held in London in the beginning of next month, the Prime Ministers also discussed the need for the international community to come together and substantially increase financial support for the crisis.
On terrorism they agreed to continue working closely together on security co-operation, while on migration they discussed the EU-Turkey action plan, both noting it was vital to implement the agreement without delay.
With regard to Cyprus, Mr Davutoglu expressed his optimism and hope for a settlement in 2016. He told his host that he hoped the Cyprus issue could be solved with the support of Britain and the guarantor powers.
Sources close to the Turkish Prime Minister said that Ankara was suggesting a five-party meeting of the three guarantor powers and the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in order to discuss the security arrangement in a reunited Cyprus. IBNA understands, however, that despite the clear messages by President Anastasiades that no solution would be possible without the full removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus, Mr Davutoglu considers this particular discussion an isolated element of the whole issue, while his government wants to be talking about a “comprehensive” settlement plan.
With ample room for disagreement on this specific issue, the UK insists that it does not have any wish for the guarantees’ regime to be maintained and that it is ready to accept whatever the Cypriots decide on security. The fact that the other guarantor powers, Greece and Turkey, seem to be occupying the opposite ends of the guarantees discussion spectrum does not necessarily put pressure on London. Many British diplomats would say that the UK Government’s position aims solely to support a solution reached by Cypriots and is not determined by the stance of either Greece or Turkey.
In spite of these still unresolved thorny issues Prime Minister Davutoglu is said to be suggesting the five-party meeting should take place as soon as possible. The view in Ankara as understood in London is that the finalisation of the settlement talks could come as soon as in March or April, paving the way for a swift referendum in Cyprus’s two communities.
Me Davutoglu’s visit to Downing Street was met with strong protest by around a hundred Kurds, who defied heavy police presence and tried to attack the Turkish Prime Minister’s car when he was leaving the British prime ministerial residence. The driver and the security had to opt for the second exit of Downing Street, away from the furious protesters, several of whom got arrested. The British government apologised for the events to Mr Davutoglu.
In what was a packed day in London, Ahmet Davutoglu spoke to investors, bankers and businessmen in two events, one organised by Merrill Lynch Bank of America and the second at Bloomberg’s European headquarters in the City. He presented his government’s reform package and noted that the regional risks will not reverse the momentum of the Turkish economy. “Turkey will be the rising star of the global economy in the next four years,” said Mr Davutoglu.