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POLITICS > Turkish FM defends Ankara’s decision to ground Syrian plane

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Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu,  AA Photo

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, AA Photo

Turkey has no doubts that a Syrian passenger plane forced to land Oct. 10 in Ankara by Turkish authorities was illegally transporting material that was subsequently seized by officials, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said while failing to disclose the nature of the material.

“You load military material aboard a civilian plane in violation of international law and, by assuming that – if it is appropriate to say so – we will ‘buy’ it and that we will not be able to see it, you then attempt to transport it over us. Then we land that plane,” Davutoğlu said in an interview aired on Bugün TV late yesterday.

However, the interview was not live, so Davutoğlu’s remarks cannot be interpreted as a response to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks in which he said Russia was expecting an official statement from Turkey stating that the plane, which was en route from Moscow to Damascus, was not carrying weapons or ammunition.

Turkey will do whatever international regulations require about the confiscated material, Davutoğlu said.

“We will do the right thing, we will fulfill the requirements and then we will explain this to our friends,” he added.

Lavrov had said the cargo was electrical technical equipment for radar stations, Voice of Russia reported. The foreign minister added that the material was dual-purpose equipment that was not forbidden by any international conventions.

‘Israel is guilty’

Davutoğlu, meanwhile, also said the conditions Israel must fulfill to normalize bilateral ties with Turkey were obvious and that it was Israel who needs to take concrete steps.

“Israel is guilty and will do what is necessary as a result of its crime,” Davutoğlu said.

In exchange for restoring full ties with Israel, Turkey has repeatedly demanded that the country issue an apology and pay compensation for the deaths of nine Turkish activists killed by Israeli commandos in 2010 on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla to Gaza, as well as lift the blockade on Gaza.

The issue returned to the agenda again recently when Israeli Ambassador Pinhas Avivi, Israel Foreign Ministry’s political director for multilateral global and strategic affairs and former ambassador to Turkey, offered bilateral talks on Syria earlier this week.

Davutoğlu said he had received a lot of messages from Israel through the foreign ministers of third countries.

Israel is trying to give a conciliatory image through these messages, he said. “If there is anything that you think, there are different channels; you take your steps, and we see and assess,” he said.

October/24/2012

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