NATO allies Türkiye and UK sign new defence and security pact

Türkiye and the United Kingdom have continued to extend their co-operation on defence and security issues by signing a Statement of Intent.

The new agreement, signed in Ankara by British Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, and Yaşar Güler, the Minister of National Defence for Turkiye, on Thursday, 23 November, follows increased co-operation between the UK and Türkiye on defence matters in recent years.

Formalising this, the Statement of Intent provides a framework for the two countries to work more closely together to enhance national, regional and international security and increase mutual prosperity.

There will also be closer collaboration between both countries’ defence industries, the identification of possible joint training exercises in the Mediterranean, and the exploration of security support around North Africa and the Middle East.

As part of their bilateral meeting in Ankara, the two defence ministers discussed the need for de-escalation in the Middle East and the Ukranian conflict.

Mr Shapps also thanked his Turkish counterpart for utilising Türkiye’s influence as the gatekeeper to the Black Sea to enable the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain to nations depending on this vital food supply. The two men also discussed Sweden’s accession to NATO, which is dependent on the Turkish Parliament’s ratification.

The British Defence Secretary said: “I was very pleased to meet my counterpart, Minister Güler, and to jointly agree to deepen the UK-Turkish defence relationship.

“Türkiye stands at the crossroads of three continents and, at a time of such global instability, their influence cannot be underestimated.

“The agreement we’ve signed will see our relationship go from strength-to-strength and enhance our nations’ defence and security co-operation.”

The two men are relatively new to their roles and this was the first time the two had met face-to-face. Mr Güler was appointed to President Erdoğan’s new cabinet in June of this year following the Presidential and General Elections in Turkiye in May.

Rishi Sunak appointed Grant Shapps as Defence Secretary at the end of August, who took over from Ben Wallace, who had announced in July he was resigning as Defence Secretary at the next cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Wallace had enjoyed very positive relations with Mr Güler’s predecessor Hulusi Akar and was an admirer of Turkiye’s growing defence sector. In 2020, he described military drones designed and manufactured by Turks as “a game changer”, citing their vital role in modern warfare following their important impact in conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

In the other direction, Türkiye has stated it is keen to purchase 40 Eurofighter jets, jointly produced by the UK, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Main image, top, off and his Turkish counterpart Yaşar Güler, in Ankara, 23 Nov. 2023. Photo via X / Grant Shapps