Turkey and Israel are two countries in the Middle East that need each other, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
02 Ocak 2016 Cumartesi 10:50
“Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region. We have to admit that we also need Israel” Erdoğan said on his return from an official trip to Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to a group of journalists aboard the presidential plane returning to Turkey from Riyadh, where he met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdülaziz al-Saud, Erdoğan said the mutual need “is a fact of the region.”
“We need to see that. If we can take steps in reciprocal sincerity, then normalization will continue” he added.
Relations with Israel have been tense since May 31, 2010, when Israeli forces raided a Gaza-bound flotilla of mainly Turkish activists, killing 10 people aboard the Mavi Marmara, the largest of the six vessels in the flotilla.
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Dec. 28, 2015, progress was made with Israel on the issue of compensation for Mavi Marmara victims, adding that Turkey had not changed its three conditions for normalization of ties between the two countries:
“There has been progress made about the second condition, the one with compensation, but we have not reached a point where we can ink it” Kalın told reporters at a press conference.
He said Israel has met first condition by apologizing to Turkey, and added that two more demands were still on the table: Compensation for Mavi Marmara victims and the “lift or bend” of an embargo implemented by Israel on Gaza Strip.
Erdoğan reiterated Turkey's stance.
“On the embargo, they [Israel] said ‘goods, construction equipment can enter [Gaza] via Turkey.' We will wait for the written text so that they do not back down” said Erdoğan, adding that another important point for Turkey is the Israeli aggression on Al Aqsa Mosque.
Erdoğan also said sectarian differentiation in the Islamic alliance to counter the Islamic State (IS) is “out of the question,” denying that the Islamic anti-terror military alliance announced in mid-December 2015 “has any particular sect.”
“It is out of the question that there is sectarian differentiation in the Islamic alliance, which right now includes 37 countries. The alliance is aimed at combatting terror” he said, adding that the number of states in the alliance would increase.
“Just as there are Sunnis and Shiites in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], it will be the same here too” Erdoğan stated.
He said the alliance has “security, intelligence and military” aspects, as well as work aimed at preventing the “misuse of religious concepts” and maintaining solidarity to fight against Islamophobia.
Saudi Arabia had announced on Dec. 14, 2015 the establishment of an Islamic military alliance led by itself to fight terrorism, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations.