Turkey: Armed Forces

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 3rd August 2020.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to discuss with the government of Turkey that country's military commitments in Libya, Syria and Iraq; and in particular the compatibility of those commitments with NATO membership.

Photo of Baroness Sugg Baroness Sugg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Turkey is a key NATO ally - one of the largest contributors of military personnel - and sits on the frontline of some of the most difficult and serious challenges we face. We will continue to work closely with Turkey within NATO on challenges to peace and security.

The UK does not support Turkish military activity in Libya, which risks aggravating the conflict and worsening regional tensions. We have expressed our concerns to the Turkish Government, as we have with other external actors whose activity continues to fuel the conflict. All parties to the Libyan conflict must de-escalate, commit to a ceasefire and return to UN-led political dialogue. The Foreign Secretary delivered this message to Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu during his visit to London on 8 July.

The Foreign Secretary also discussed Syria with the Foreign Minister; Ministers and officials regularly discuss the situation in northern Syria with the Government of Turkey. The UK made clear our opposition to the unilateral Turkish intervention in north-east Syria in October 2019. We welcome the ceasefire currently in place in the north-east and also acknowledge the important role Turkey has played in recent months to secure a ceasefire in Idlib.

Regarding Turkish military actions in northern Iraq, the British Ambassador in Ankara has spoken to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including on reports of civilian casualties. We continue to urge dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security and protect civilians.

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