British foreign minister Boris Johnson began a key visit to Turkey on Monday, months after he led the successful “Brexit” campaign that played on anti-Turkish sentiments.
Campaigners for Britain to leave the EU in the June 23 vote repeatedly raised the spectre of millions of Turks being free to live in Britain as a reason to pull out of the 28-nation bloc.
Former London mayor Johnson risked further Turkish ire in May when he won a British competition calling for rude verse about Erdogan, organised in solidarity with a German comedian facing prosecution for doing the same.
Turkish officials have played down possible setback in the two countries’ relationship, saying British-Turkish ties are too important to be hostage to Johnson’s statements.
Johnson has made headlines in Turkish media because of his Turkish great-grandfather Ali Kemal, who was a politician and a journalist in the 1900s.
Turkey’s relations with Europe has soured after the coup attempt, amid concerns over Ankara’s subsequent crackdown on alleged coup plotters.
Turkey has angrily rejected the criticism that the vast purge might breach rights norms Ankara must meet for accession into the European Union.