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Scottish first minister accused of protocol ‘breach’ due to Erdoğan meeting

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British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has called a recent meeting Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a breach of protocol and threatened to withdraw cooperation with Scottish ministers, the BBC and The Guardian reported.

Yousaf met with the Turkish president at the United Nations climate summit, COP28, in Dubai on December 1 without a UK official present.

Cameron wrote a letter to Scottish Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson, saying it was a breach of protocol for Yousaf to have discussed Gaza and other matters with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the COP28 summit.

“My officials have Informed me that First Minister Yousaf met President Erdogan of Turkiye while at COP28 last week, discussing among other things the situation in Gaza.

“Despite an assurance being given by Scottish Government officials that they would provide sufficient advance notice to allow an FCDO [Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office] official to attend that meeting, this was not done.

“A UK official was available, whose contact details were known to your officials on the ground, but the location of the meeting was not shared with them.

“The absence of an FCDO official at this meeting contravenes the protocols in our guidance on FCDO support to devolved Government Ministers’ overseas visit,” Cameron said in his letter.

The former British prime minister warned that any further breaches of the protocol of ministerial meetings having a FCDO official present would result in no further FCDO facilitation of meetings or logistical support.

“We will also need to consider the presence of Scottish Government offices in UK Government posts. I would be grateful for swift action to resolve this issue and I look forward to hearing from you,” he added.

Yousaf responded to Cameron’s letter on Monday, accusing the British foreign secretary of being “really petty and frankly misguided.”

Speaking to the PA news agency, Yousaf said, “First of all, let’s be clear – the approach from Lord Cameron is really petty and frankly misguided.”

“Scotland is the part of the UK, outside of London, that has attracted the most foreign direct investment for eight years in a row, that happens because the Scottish Government’s international engagement is valued (and) has impact.

“To threaten to curtail that, to stop that international engagement – the international engagement from the elected Scottish Government from an unelected lord – I think is misguided and petty.”

He said the FCDO official missed the meeting because the time changed.

Yousaf announced his meeting with Erdoğan on X on December 1, saying they discussed the urgency of global action on tackling the climate crisis in addition to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

“An immediate & permanent ceasefire is needed now. Too many innocent children have died, it must stop,” he tweeted. 

Cameron was appointed British foreign secretary last month in a cabinet shuffle in which Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a divisive figure who sparked anger for accusing police of being too lenient with pro-Palestinian protesters, was fired.

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