Turkey says it helped Hamas become 'mainstream'
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks at a press briefing during the Seventh Annual Ambassadors' Conference on Jan. 9. AFP PhotoForeign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has strongly defended Turkey’s relationship with Hamas, suggesting that this relationship has actually helped make the militant Palestinian group "mainstream."
“Turkey wants to make contributions for peace in the Middle East and is establishing dialogue with everybody who wants to contribute. It is trying to convince everybody,” Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 12, in response to Washington’s apparent criticism of the relationship between Ankara and Hamas.
“Everybody can see how much of a difference there is between Hamas’ previous line and its current stance. The country that has made the biggest contribution to this is Turkey. We have even convinced Hamas to recognize the independent Israeli state in the case of a resolution,” he added, speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency.
“Our dialogue with Hamas is important for peace and dialogue. We don’t understand those who say ‘We are against the Hamas leader’s [Khaled Mashaal] visit to Turkey.’ No matter who they are and no matter where they come from, people who come to Turkey enter and exit in line with international law and the laws of Turkey. Turkey is a democratic state governed by the rule of law. Therefore, whoever enters and whoever stays, and for how long, is designated by laws,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“It is not a decision to be made by politicians of third countries,” he added.
Last week, there were media reports that the exiled Hamas leader had been expelled from Qatar, where he has been residing, and that he would go to Turkey, but the organization has denied these claims.
When asked about the reports on Jan. 7, Çavuşoğlu said Hamas had already denied those reports, but noted that “regardless of which country they belong to, people are free to come and go to Turkey as they wish, as long as there are no legal impediments.”
Washington’s reaction came as early as Jan. 8 via the spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, who expressed concerns.
“Our position on Hamas has not changed. Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization that continues to engage in terrorist activity and demonstrated its intentions during the summer’s conflict in – with Israel,” U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said during daily press briefing on Jan. 8.
Psaki’s remarks came in response to a question about Çavuşoğlu’s statements that Mashaal is “welcome in Turkey.”
“We continue to raise our concerns about the relationship between Hamas and Turkey with senior Turkish officials, including after learning of Mashaal’s recent visit there. And we have urged the government of Turkey to press Hamas to reduce tensions and prevent violence,” she stated.
‘Parallel structure’ hand in hand with Armenian lobby against Turkey: FM Çavuşoğlu
Followers of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen are working against Turkey “hand in hand with the Armenian lobby,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has claimed.
Wherever it is organized, the parallel structure is “striving to defame Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that it has found a new opportunity in the run up to the centennial anniversary of the mass killings of Anatolian Armenians during the Ottoman era.
“These persons say ‘We are Turks,’ but they are doing every kind of thing to weaken this country,” Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 12, speaking in an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency.
The government labels the Gülen movement, whose sympathizers are believed to be active in a number of state branches, a “criminal organization” aimed at toppling the elected ruling party. In line with this aim, Çavuşoğlu said Gülenists are exerting intense efforts for the release of decisions against Turkey by U.S. legislative bodies, pointing to the amount of money it spends around the world.
“The 2015 incidents, other cases … Whatever thing there is against Turkey, they are in cooperation with it,” Çavuşoğlu said, referring to the 100th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians in World War I.
Armenia and its diaspora want Turkey to recognize the mass killings of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 as genocide, something that Turkey has so far vehemently resisted.