Thursday 21 January 2016

Turkish PM Davutoğlu forced to leave Downing Street via back gate

The calm before the storm as two leaders pose outside the famous door. Photo: Facebook/Turkish Embassy in London

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had an unseemly exit from Downing Street on Monday 18 Jan. as protestors tried to storm the famous street.

Following his hour-long meeting with British counterpart David Cameron, Davutoğlu and his delegation were set to leave as they had entered, via the front gates. Hundreds of protestors were assembled on Whitehall opposite Downing Street. As soon as officers on motorbikes escorting the Turkish PM’s motorcade went out onto the main road, scores of protestors rushed to enter.

Duty officers quickly closed the gates and called for reinforcements. Scuffles broke out as the police tried to contain the protestors and push them back behind the barricades. Ten arrests were made and a few journalists suffered minor injuries as they tried to capture the chaotic scenes (see below clip by Evrensel Gazetesi).

Londra'da protesto edilen Davutoğlu arka kapıdan kaçtı!
Londra'da protesto edilen Başbakan Ahmet Davutoğlu arka kapıdan kaçtı!
Posted by EVRENSEL GAZETESİ - on Monday, 18 January 2016

British minister expresses “regret” over Downing Street events

Realising the problems on Whitehall, the Turkish motorcade quickly exited from the gates at the far end of Downing Street. Later on Monday evening, Sajid Javid, the British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, visited Davutoğlu at his London hotel to express regret for the events outside Downing Street. Turkish media, however, reported the British response as an “apology”, which has been denied by British officials.

Turkish sources close to the Prime Minister said Britain authorities had been forewarned of the need for increased security during the Turkish Prime Minister’s two-day visit. Their concerns were proven to be well-founded.

The protestors – mainly from Britain’s Kurdish community – were present to denounce Davutoğlu’s government over the current unrest in southeast Turkey, which has claimed over 300 lives. Some held placards such as “Stop Turkeys War on Kurds” [sic], “Davutoglu War Criminal ISIS Supporter” and “Murderer Davutoglu”, while others waved banners displaying the picture of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Trade between Turkey & the UK exceeded $15 billion in 2015

The experience was an ugly, albeit minor blip in an otherwise highly successful visit to the British capital by Ahmet Davutoğlu and his high-level delegation, which included deputy PMs Mehmet Şimşek and Lütfi Elvan, Economy Minister Mustafa Elitaş, and Treasury Minister Naci Ağbal.

The Turkish PM had come to address the 16th Turkish Equity Conference organised by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he was able to meet with current and prospective investors in Turkey. During the visit, Davutoğlu also spoke at Chatham House and was interviewed by Bloomberg’s Guy Johnson.

At Monday’s Downing Street meeting with David Cameron, the two leaders discussed the growing trade between their respective countries, which exceeded $15 billion in 2015, the war on terror, and the prospects of a political solution in Cyprus in 2016. 

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