Civil Society Space — [Mr Andrew Turner in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:29 pm on 26th January 2017.

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Photo of Alan Duncan Alan Duncan Minister of State 3:29 pm, 26th January 2017

From my DFID days and now from my desk in the Foreign Office, the path to peace in Northern Ireland is a fantastic example of how something can be achieved in this field. By taking other countries’ politicians to Northern Ireland to show how it was done, we have made progress in countries such as Nepal, Colombia and potentially Burma, in a slightly different field. Therefore, one cannot exaggerate or over-praise the example of Northern Ireland in having a beneficial effect on other parts of the world that are trying to find a path to peace and security.

I will, however, raise one issue in response to the hon. Member for Glasgow East. I fully understand everything she said, and fully recognise her personal interest and the experience she underwent when she was in Turkey. May I just say to her that she did not say anything about the other side of the picture? I am very familiar with Turkey—I have been there three times since I became a Foreign Office Minister, including a visit of three days after the attempted coup. It is important to experience how traumatic that attempted coup has been to the entire population of Turkey. One has to understand that they went through—they have, through their history, lived through this risk—a day, the equivalent of which in the UK would be like a regiment of the Army driving tanks up Whitehall, shooting people on Westminster bridge, trying to kill the Queen and the Prime Minister, bombing Parliament while it was sitting and taking over the BBC. That is what they went through. One has to understand the trauma and the existential threat of that experience to understand Turkey, and indeed to understand everything that followed, which she described.