Jack Straw has been given one of Turkey’s highest awards for being ‘a politician who approaches the Islamic world and Muslim societies with sincerity and friendship’.

He flew to Turkish capital Ankara to receive the country’s highest order available to individuals who are not heads of state.

The citation for the Order of the Republic or Turkey made by President Abdullah Gul highlights the Blackburn MP and former Foreign Secretary’s commitment to multi-culturalism.

He praised Mr Straw for his role in issues such as the British military’s position in Iraq and Afghanistan, highly controversial issues in the Islamic world.

President Gul said he hoped the award would be a ‘strong symbol of the longstanding friendship’ between Britain and Turkey and its peoples.

Mr Straw said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this award. Turkey is a vital country to Europe and the modern world.”

Giving Mr Straw the award, President Gul said: “I am especially honoured to present to my very close friend Jack, the Order of the Republic which is the highest order presented to persons other than heads of state.

“In our generation, Jack Straw is one of those few politicians who embodies the qualities of a statesman.

“He has valued multi-culturalism throughout his political career and is a politicians who approaches the Islamic world and Muslim societies with sincerity and friendship.

“The key to his popularity in his constituency of Blackburn lies in these very qualities.

“Jack is a democrat with a conscience of the kind greatly and collectively needed in Europe in order to fight against racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”

President Gul praised Mr Straw as being a ‘friend to Turkey and the Turkish people’ and highlighted his efforts to bring Turkey into the European Union and supporting the case of the Turkish Cypriots.