Liam Fox should use Turkey visit to promote human rights, not arms sales


The International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, has travelled to Turkey today for a trade visit. The government says that the visit "will build on the strong foundations laid by the Prime Minister and President Erdoğan in January 2017 when they established the UK-Turkey Trade Working Group." Fox will meet with President Erdogan and other government ministers including the Defence Minister.

According to the government press release "Dr Fox will also see how the partnership between BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is helping to deliver Turkey's TF-X indigenous fighter programme. The contract for the initial design phase of the fifth generation fighter aircraft was concluded in August 2017 and is worth around £100 million."

Turkey is on the Department of International Trade's list of 'core markets' for arms exports.

The UK has licensed over £415 million worth of arms to Turkey since Erdogan took power in August 2014, including £115 million of arms since the attempted coup in July 2016.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "The Turkish government is taking increasingly authoritarian steps to quash dissent and punish opponents. There have been major attacks on free speech and press freedom, as well as serious allegations of torture and repression.

If Fox wants to do the right thing for Turkish people then he must use his visit to push for human rights and meaningful change, not arms sales. He should put the interest and rights of Turkish people above arms company profits."

A recent poll from Opinium found that 68% of UK adults oppose arms exports to Turkey (with only 13% supporting).

Read more about the Campaign Against the Arms Trade here: www.caat.org.uk/

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