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First Minister defends Erdogan invitation

HUMZA YOUSAF has defended inviting “authoritarian despot” Recep Erdogan to Scotland as a meeting with a “Nato ally.”

The Scottish First Minister invited the Turkish president to Scotland during what he described as a “warm and friendly” meeting at the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai last year.

The meeting had already proven controversial after Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron wrote to the First Minister to warn of repercussions of meeting foreign leaders without Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) officials present.

Defending the invite on Thursday Mr Yousaf, who described Turkey as “on a journey” over human rights, said: “I said the next time he’s in the United Kingdom, he should come up to Scotland.

“Turkey is a Nato ally, why would we not wish to have a Nato ally here?”

Slamming the decision, Humanist Society Scotland’s Fraser Sutherland said: “This is a very short-sighted invite from the First Minister.

“Under President Erdogan Turkey has seen a sustained attack on civil liberties and human rights.

“Allegations of torture against political prisoners are widespread and the Turkish government censors and blocks webpages of news websites that are critical of the governing party.

“Erdogan is an authoritarian despot. He should not be welcomed to Bute House by this First Minister or any who follow him.”

Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clark called on the Scottish government to review its procurement guidelines to ensure firms in “human rights abusing regimes” such as Erdogan’s are not awarded future public contracts.

Four lifeline ferries are currently being constructed by the Cemre Marin Endustri yard in northern Turkey, despite the country being ranked among the 10 worst countries in the world for workers’ rights every year since 2016, she highlighted.

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