The new U.K. trade agreement with Turkey, signed last week, ignores the continuing human rights violations of the Turkish government, empowers its dangerous president and contradicts ministerial assurances that international laws and principles will be respected by “global Britain” Without even a hint of parliamentary oversight, the agreement came into effect on Jan. 1. The dawning reality of the unscrupulous post-Brexit world of Boris Johnson is here, without lies and bombast. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the “strong” leader of Turkey, is delighted. He’s the biggest new fan of British Secretary of Foreign Trade Liz Truss, whose shoddy job this is. As the beginning of a “new era” and a victory for Turkey, Erdoğan hailed the deal.
Erdoğan desperately needed a win after years of catastrophic economic mismanagement and fierce conflicts with the U.S. and EU over Turkish policies towards Russia, Syria, Libya, Greece, and Cyprus. It seems now to be forgotten that Johnson used the specter of Turkish refugees in 2016 to frighten Leave voters. His government has built a favourable bilateral trade agreement and has vowed tailor-made ‘upgrades’ to a leader who sometimes mocks the EU and faces potential European trade sanctions. How does that balance the pledge made by Johnson to be “the best friend and ally the EU could have”? Britain Signs Turkey Free Trade AgreementContinue ReadingThis hasty deal overrides common fears regarding human rights.
It may be naive to assume that the deal, which replicates current EU-Turkey agreements, would cause the two-way trade of £ 18.6 billion to be jeopardized by issues of principle. But about the U.K. It is Turkey’s second largest market for exports.
In order to retain duty-free entry, Ankara was desperate. That provided leverage for Johnson and Truss.
It was a moment of sovereignty.
But they have failed to demand that Erdoğan alter his actions. With a government that systematically persecutes its rivals, manipulates elections, and undermines judges, Britain is now unquestioningly in bed.
Hundreds are detained or deported by independent lawyers, defenders of human rights, and journalists.
Selahattin Demirtaş, former leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, is jailed in spite of his release ordered by the European Court of Human Rights. Last month, the House of Lords amended the government’s Trade Bill to include a human rights risk assessment when entering into negotiations to ensure conformity with the international treaties and commitments of the U.K. in the face of these and related problems with other post-Brexit trading partners.
However, when the bill returns to the House of Commons, the government is likely to reverse the amendment. Johnson’s government has so far ‘flipped’ some 30 current trade arrangements in its attempt to replace lapsed EU agreements.
They have not been subjected, like the Turkey contract, to rigorous parliamentary scrutiny. Other countries or institutions with controversial records on human rights, such as Egypt, Tunisia, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, are included in the list.
Bilateral deals have not yet been pursued with infamous human rights abusers such as China and Saudi Arabia. A blanket trade freeze over human rights issues with Turkey or any other nation is usually not a policy that pleases British governments.
Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who supported a “ethical foreign policy.” was one exception.
But it is possible to use trade ties to promote wider agendas, such as respect for democracy and individual freedoms. This aspect is entirely absent from the “cash-and-carry” approach of Johnson. In recent years, for instance, much of the Turkish-British trade has consisted of military sales to Ankara.
The United Kingdom, according to the Fight against Arms Trade, Since Gezi Park’s iconic uprising in 2013, it has exported £ 1.3 billion worth of arms to Turkey.
Arms export licenses worth £806 million were released in the time following the failed coup in 2016, when Erdoğan began a series of brutal crackdowns. The rush to finalize the Turkey contract could be explained by this lucrative deal, or the possibility of losing it. But the fact that Erdoğan is accused of using British-made technology and equipment to undermine domestic political force