Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The View from Turkey: Gaza Op Seriously Damages Relations with Turkey

Compiled from, January 7, 2009 -
Prime Minister Erdogan: "Israel's air assault on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip is a crime against humanity," said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday. Speaking to a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan called on Israel to halt the attacks. As part of efforts to end the violence by Israel, Erdogan also telephoned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and urged the UN to provide humanitarian aid to the people affected by the assaults and help stop Israel's military operation.
Calling Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip a blow to world peace, he stressed that violence leads to more violence. Decrying Israel use of disproportionate force against innocent civilians, he cited Olmert's pledge to continue direct talks between Israel and Syria. Erdogan, whose government has helped mediate the Israeli-Syria talks, added, "This operation, launched despite all of these facts, also shows disrespect to Turkey."

Foreign Minister Babacan: "If there is no peace in the Middle East, nobody in the world can live peacefully," Babacan said. He added that the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released one of the harshest statements of its history regarding the attacks on Gaza.
"We have historical responsibilities towards Palestine and we deeply understand the pain felt by Palestinians," said Babacan, stating that Turkey believed the problems would be solved through dialogue.
"If the recent incidents turn into a spiral and spread to the region, it would constitute a great risk," Babacan said.
Turkish foreign minister also said that a cease-fire should be declared and the blockade should be lifted as soon as possible.

Turkish Parliament: 200 out of 307 legislators have resigned in protest from the Turkey-Israel Friendship Group.

Ha'aretz, January 8, 2009 -
Gaza Op has put an end to Israel's honeymoon with Turkey - A day after the offensive began, Erdogan issued a scathing indictment against Israel and Olmert in particular. "He betrayed me and harmed the honor of Turkey," he said.

Erdogan advisers, who participated in the Syria talks, expressed frustration and disappointment at Israel's actions: "We were so close to direct talks [with Syria, which Turkey had been mediating], and this operation ruined everything."

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