As part of his second official tour of the coastal provinces of Antalya and Muğla, the British Ambassador to Turkey, Richard Moore, spent Tuesday in the Mediterranean town of Fethiye.
As with the Ambassador’s previous visit in 2014 his wife, Maggie, and her guide dog, Star, accompanied him.
The Ambassador’s aides included Timothy Fisher, the British Consul in Istanbul; Joanne Pietsch, Consular Country Manager; Fethiye’s pro-consul Ahmet Dördüncü and Mustafa Şıkman, Fethiye’s British Honorary Consul.
Their second visit since Ambassador Moore’s appointment in 2014 was for two reasons: to speak with town officials and have an informal get together with British nationals living in the area.
With issues surrounding security in Turkey high on the agenda this was an important visit and HM Ambassador Moore met with officials, including the Governor, Ekrem Çalık, the Public Prosecutor and security officials.
English language media meeting
The second part of his visit was an informal meeting with local English language newspaper editors, who had the opportunity to ask him questions about various topics, mainly issues surrounding security. The main points were:
Although the Ambassador said it is an intense period at the moment and no one is complacent, there is a lot going on behind the scenes at all levels, which can be seen as reassuring.
When asked about travel advice to Turkey, Ambassador Moore said:
We don’t issue any advice to our members of staff that we don’t give to the public. The security information given to [British nationals] is the same as that given to Embassy and Consular staff. The UK Government only issues warnings when there is substance behind them and when travel advice shifts there is a very good reason for it and it should be taken very seriously.
He also said that decisions about whether or not to visit Turkey are for individuals. All the embassy can do is provide information but ultimately individuals must make up their own minds.
The meeting was also told that for British nationals living in Turkey, there is still time to register to vote in the EU referendum.
Informal meeting with British nationals
British nationals living in the area had been given the opportunity to come to an informal gathering at the Yacht Classic.
The weather and the venue were perfect. About 40 people came and questions were asked on several issues affecting foreign nationals living in Turkey. Ambassador Moore listened carefully to all the questions and he and his staff answered where possible.
An impromptu visit
The ambassador Richard Moore, his wife Maggie, his mother-in-law, Moira, aides and security personnel then made an impromptu visit to a local café called Engelsiz Kafe, which is part of a special needs school for students with disabilities.
Fethiye Times recently published a story about this café, which is owned and funded by Salih Retinal, while receiving support from two Fethiye charities: FIG (Fethiye International Group and Üzümlü Ladies).
In the warm afternoon sunshine the ambassadorial party spent a relaxed hour, siting under shady trees, drinking ayran and talking with the students, teachers and School Director, Müesser Yılmaz.