The Future of UK-Turkey Relations: A joint RUSI-TUSIAD panel discussion

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RUSI and the major Turkish business association, TUSIAD, are hosting a joint panel discussion on the future of UK-Turkey relations.

Turkey has a major role to play in tackling a range of crises facing Europe, as well as providing a major trade link into the burgeoning Middle East and North Africa market. The UK-Turkey relationship is therefore of significant importance to the UK, and Europe as a whole.

Bringing together TUSIAD, Turkey’s top business association comprised of some 600 leading entrepreneurs and executives from the Turkish business world, and RUSI, a leading British defence and security think tank, this panel discussion aims to discuss every aspect of the UK-Turkey relationship. From the economic links that tie the two countries together, and the importance of growing these links given their mutual reliance on export-led growth, to the common security concerns about the conflict in Syria and the migration crisis, there is much mutual ground between the two nations. There are also areas of political differences that cannot be brushed over, but precisely for this reason friendly but frank conversations are required between the UK and Turkey.

To discuss the current state of UK-Turkey relations, RUSI is pleased to welcome the following speakers:

  • Catherine Margaret Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, former EU High Representative and former EU Trade Commissioner
  • Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary and former chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee
  • Dr Hasan Süel, Chief External Affairs Officer at Vodafone Turkey; Head of TUSIAD UK Business Network

This event will be preceded by a short sandwich lunch at RUSI from 12.00 to 12.30, to which all those registered are welcome to attend.

Following on from this panel discussion, RUSI and TUSIAD will write a joint paper that defines the current state of UK-Turkey relations and outlines a roadmap for enhanced relations between the two countries, and host a major conference for the launch of this report.

If you would like to attend this panel discussion, please register below. If you have any questions, please contact Nathan Mathiot on

Speaker's Biographies

Catherine Margaret Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland is a Life Peer in the House of Lords and a senior Labour politician. She served as leader of the House of Lords (2007–08), European Union (EU) trade commissioner (2008–09), and high representative for foreign affairs and security policy for the EU (2009–14).

Before joining the Lords she worked as a Director for Business in the Community, committed to Inner City Regeneration and supporting minority communities to get better employment opportunities. She was also the Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families. She then served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Education and Skills, and subsequently in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice.

She was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen's Privy Council in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet in June 2007. As well as Leader of the Lords, she took responsibility for equalities issues and was instrumental in steering the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon through the upper chamber.

In 2008, she was appointed as the British European Commissioner and became the Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission. During her time as Trade Commissioner she initialed an ambitious and far-reaching free trade agreement with South Korea. She also represented the European Union in the Doha Round of world trade talks and co-chaired the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan.

In 2009, she became the European Union's first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and won praise for her work as a negotiator in difficult international situations, particularly for her role in bringing Serbia and Kosovo to agreement in 2013 and in the P5+1 talks with Iran which led to the November 2013 Geneva interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a former MP and a senior Conservative politician. He served in various roles as a cabinet minister under Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, including Secretary of State for Scotland (1986–1990), Defence Secretary (1992–1995) and Foreign Secretary (1995–1997).

Sir Malcolm Rifkind was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1974 until 1997. In 1997 he was knighted in recognition of his public service. He served as UK representative on the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group 2010-2011 and as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, which provides oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies, MI6, MI5 and GCHQ, from 2010 until 2015.

He is currently a member of the OSCE’s Eminent Persons Group, which has reported on relations between Russia and the West. He also serves on the Board of the Nuclear Threat Initiative in Washington DC. He has been appointed a Visiting Professor at King’s College, London and is a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Dr Hasan Süel is the Chief External Affairs Officer of TUSIAD. He worked as a Corporate Affairs and Communication Director for JTI International between the years 2005-2009.

He worked as a Regulatory Affairs Manager for Aria between 2001 and 2004 and as the Department Head responsible for the Telecommunications Industry in the Prime Ministry Privatization Administration between 1993 and 2001.

Hasan Süel got a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from the Middle East Technical University, an MBA from the Bilkent University and a Doctorate in Business Administration from the Ankara University - Faculty of Political Sciences.

He has also worked as a part-time professor giving lessons on Telecommunications Policy in Istanbul Bilgi University and Bilkent University and has academic experience in this area. He has been chairman of Vodafone Turkey Foundation since 2010.

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