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MIDEAST > Kerry says Turkish PM Zionism remarks 'objectionable'

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. AP Photo

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he found "objectionable" the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's branding of Zionism as a crime against humanity.

"We not only disagree with it, but we find it objectionable," Kerry said at a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. "I raised the speech with the foreign minister and I will raise it with the prime minister."

Kerry to 'express concerns' to Turkish PM over Zionism remarks: US official

Secretary of State John Kerry will on Friday express concerns to Turkey's prime minister over his remarks branding Zionism a "crime against humanity," comments that Washington considers offensive and wrong, a US official said,  Agence France-Presse reported.
 
"The secretary will have the chance to express his concerns about the remarks" made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a UN forum on Wednesday, a US State Department official traveling with Kerry said on condition of anonymity.
 
"We put out a statement from Washington making clear that the statement was both offensive and wrong and I am sure the secretary will be able to convey that to the prime minister directly this afternoon," the official said.

Netanyahu slams Erdoğan’s comments on anti-Semitism as 'dark and libelous'


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments on Zionism and anti-Semitism on Feb. 28, describing them as a “crime against humanity.”

“I strongly condemn the comparison that the Turkish prime minister drew between Zionism and Nazism. I had thought that such dark and libelous comments were a thing of the past,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, according to daily Haaretz.

Speaking at the “Fifth Alliance of Civilizations Forum” in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace on Feb. 27, Erdoğan had criticized the attitude toward Muslims in certain European countries. “Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity,” Erdoğan said. 

Israel Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yigal Palmor also blasted Erdoğan’s remarks as “hollow words that only reflect ignorance.” Palmor added that Israeli officials saw the remarks in the Turkish press. “Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people and to deny any people their right to self-determination and to their national movement is absurd. We will not dignify such nonsense with any future comment,” he said.

According to Jerusalem Post, Israeli officials expect U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to raise the issue of improving ties between the two countries during his trip to Ankara on March 1.

The Turkish government has repeatedly demanded an official apology from Israel for the raid on the Mavi Marmara ship sailing to Gaza as part of a flotilla of activist vessels in May 2010, which killed nine Turkish activists on board. The incident caused a rapid deterioration in the bilateral relations between the countries and the Netanyahu government has so far refused to meet Turkey’s demands and issue a formal apology or pay compensation to the families.

The White House also condemned the remarks.

“We reject Prime Minister Erdoğan’s characterization of Zionism as a crime against humanity, which is offensive and wrong,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. “We encourage people of all faiths, cultures, and ideas to denounce hateful actions and to overcome the differences of our times,” he said.

Ban Ki-moon condemns Turkish PM's remarks on Zionism

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday Erdoğan’s description of Zionism as a crime against humanity was “hurtful and divisive.”
 
Ban’s spokesman said the secretary-general had heard Erdoğan’s speech at a U.N. meeting in Vienna on Wednesday through an interpreter.

“The secretary-general believes is it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership,” the spokesman said in a statement.

February/28/2013

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