Turkey’s PM sends reconciliatory messages to Russia, Israel, Syria, Egypt
Fatih Çekirge - ANKARATurkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has sent reconciliatory messages to four countries with whom Turkey has been experiencing problems, declaring that there can be no lasting enmity among countries in the Black Sea and Mediterranean.
“Israel, Syria, Russia, Egypt… There can’t be any permanent enmities between these countries encircling Black Sea and the Mediterranean. An incident happened with Russia. We of course won’t allow the violation of our right to sovereignty. However, it’s not right to stick to a single incident,” Yıldırım said, referring to a severe downturn in relations between Turkey and Russia after Ankara downed a Russian jet along its border on Nov. 24, 2015 over alleged airspace violations.
“We need to look at the bigger picture. There is no animosity between our peoples. It’s possible to return to the old days and even take it further,” he added.
Noting that mutual steps were being taken with Russia, Yıldırım added that diplomatic channels were open.
“Mr. President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] has showed his will. Russia has showed will, too. It will be settled after this point,” Yıldırım also said.
The relations between Turkey and Russia showed signs of improvement in recent days, with several steps from both countries.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that a Turkish surveillance plane carrying local and Finnish experts would conduct rare flights over Russia, after which Erdoğan and Yıldırım sent congratulatory letters to their Russian counterparts for Russia Day on June 12.
Yıldırım also commented on relations with Israel, saying the two countries were in contact.
“We are coming to a point with Israel. They are also showing will. There are contacts. It’s not concluded yet. I don’t think it will take long. The determinative thing here is eliminating the isolation of Gaza for humanitarian purposes,” he said.
Turkey was once Israel’s closest regional ally, but ties collapsed in 2010 over the killing by Israeli marines of 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists who tried to breach the Gaza blockade.
In response, Turkey demanded an apology for the killings, compensation for the Mavi Marmara victims and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza in exchange for restoring relations. Israel provided the apology, but the two sides have yet to reach a deal on the remaining two issues.
During his interview, Yıldırım spoke about Turkey’s relations with Egypt, saying that views on political developments in the latter should not have an effect on the commercial relations between the countries.
“We’ve been saying the same thing since the beginning. Mr. President have been saying it very clearly. Any attempt against the will of the people is a coup. We don’t accept it. This is our sincere view. However this shouldn’t prevent commercial relations. Economic and social relations can develop. It’s for the good of both countries,” he said.
Ties between Ankara and Cairo have been strained since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi staged a military coup against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests three years ago.
In early February, while categorically ruling out any meeting with former army chief el-Sisi until death sentences for Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were lifted, Erdoğan gave a green light for ministerial-level talks between the two estranged countries.
Despite ruling out “permanent enmity” with Syria, Yıldırım gave several warnings against Kurdish aspirations in northern Syria.
“We are seeing an effort to open a corridor that connects to the Mediterranean from Iraq and Syria’s north. It’s an intention that moves forward with cantons. Turkey has sensitivities on the subject. We won’t allow a fait accompli. Our addressees are not the local terrorist organizations. It’s the coalition forces and the U.S. Syria’s territorial integrity is important for us,” he said.