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ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey blocks the participation of Israel in a NATO summit in May despite calls from NATO allies including the US. ‘There will be no Israeli presence unless they issue a formal apology’ for Mavi Marmara attack, says an official

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Minister Davutoğlu conveys Turkey’s veto on Israel to a NATO summit. DHA photo

Minister Davutoğlu conveys Turkey’s veto on Israel to a NATO summit. DHA photo

Serkan Demirtaş Serkan Demirtaş serkan.demirtas@hdn.com.tr

Turkey has blocked the participation of Israel in a key NATO summit that will take place in Chicago on May 20 and 21, despite calls from influential allies including the United States, Western diplomatic have sources told the Hürriyet Daily News. The veto was conveyed to the NATO bodies by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during the Alliance’s meeting last week in Brussels.

“There will be no Israeli presence at the NATO meeting unless they issue a formal apology and pay compensation for the Turkish citizens their commandos killed in international waters” a senior Turkish official told the Daily News.

“There are demands from us for the removal of our veto, but this is out of question.”

“Those countries who wish to see normalization in ties between Turkey and Israel should advise Israel to apologize and to compensate the killing of Turks in international waters,” the official said.

Turkey has vetoed a number of Israeli attempts to deepen its partnership with the alliance - such as opening an office at the NATO headquarters and participating in the activities of the Mediterranean Dialogue group - on the grounds that it should first bear the consequences of its unlawful action against Turkish citizens. This reflects the two-year old strife between Turkey and Israel, which is a result of the Mavi Marmara incident that claimed the lives of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American citizen. The level of diplomatic relations between the two has been reduced to the level of “second secretary” since then.

Turkey’s blockage against Israel was brought to the table during the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on April 18, the Daily News learnt. Some ministers of the allied countries including the United States, France and Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen indirectly criticized Turkey for bringing its bilateral problems with Israel to the NATO platform. Some ministers went so far as to vow to veto the participation of Egypt, Mauritania, Algeria, Morocco and other partner countries in the activities of the Mediterranean Dialogue if Turkey continues to do so against Israel, something they called “a violation of NATO’s values.”

Criticism from Davutoğlu

In response to such statements, Davutoğlu harshly criticized his counterparts sitting around the same large table. “You are talking about being partners and partnership values. But partners, first of everything, should act like partners, so that we’ll treat them accordingly,” was the main message Davutoğlu delivered to his NATO colleagues. He elaborated:

- The army of a country which you call a partner killed our citizens upon a political order given by its administration. We do not call this kind of country a partner.

- Turkey evacuated from Israel not only Turks but citizens from many countries, after they were detained by Israeli forces due to Mavi Marmara incident. It also evacuated citizens of all nationalities from Libya and Syria without making distinction. Our expectation from all allied countries is to pay the same respect to our citizens as we do to yours.

- I assure you that Turkey will be the first country acting to protect the citizens of NATO countries in a similar incident. We believe in the notion of solidarity in NATO much more than the discrimination some of you have expressed.

April/23/2012

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