Turkey ‘cannot agree’ with US Gaza rhetoric
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Palestinians school girls walk on the rubble of a building destroyed during earlier Israeli bombardment, as they make their way to their nearby school in Gaza City after the hard-won cease-fire. AFP photoTurkey cannot agree with the U.S. rhetoric over the deadly Gaza strikes but this does not signal a rift between Ankara and Washington, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said yesterday.
Ankara and Washington have different views on the recent Israeli operations in Gaza, Davutoğlu said.
“As children were massacred in Gaza, Turkey cannot agree [with U.S. President Barack] Obama’s saying that Israel was using its right of self defense,” Davutoğlu said in a televised interview with private channel CNNTürk. A global power like the U.S. should also reflect conscience, the minister said, adding that Washington did not act that way regarding the Gaza incident.
“Yet, it does not mean Turkey is in a crisis with the U.S.” Davutoğlu said Turkey would act in light of its principles. The minister cited the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008 and said the Tel Aviv administration was repeating its offensive just after the U.S. elections and prior to the Israeli ones.
Davutoğlu said that during a recent phone conversation with U.S. Secretary State Hillary Clinton, he said Israel’s attack on Gaza had aimed to cause distress to Washington. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had criticized Obama last week over his stance on Gaza violence while President Abdullah Gül said everybody expected the U.S. to warn Israel at the time of the crisis.
Regarding Russian and Iranian criticism of the Patriot system that Turkey requested from NATO last week, Davutoğlu said no one should be concerned by the use of intercept missiles. “These systems are solely defensive mechanisms and will not become active unless there is a direct threat to our country’s security.” Iran said Turkey’s plans to deploy Patriots would add to the region’s problems. “The installation of such systems in the region has negative effects and will intensify problems in the region,” Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said while Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the deployment will make the situation more difficult and complicated.
A delegation from NATO, including German and Dutch officials will pay a visit to Turkey today for a Patriot site survey.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also dismissed the criticisms over the deployment.
“No one should come up with different meanings over the measures we take on our border,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey is obliged to take “defensive measures” as a NATO member. Davutoğlu dismissed analysis suggesting that Turkey had been sidelined during the negotiations for truce between Hamas and Israel with Egypt’s rise as a new regional power.
Palestine’s UN bid
There was “no role stealing by Egypt” since foreign policy is not a zero-sum game, he said. “Egypt is our most important strategic partner in the Middle East,” the minister said, adding Turkey and the Arab country were not rivals for regional leadership.
Davutoğlu also said he would participate in the U.N. General Assembly meeting next week if the Palestinians could finish the procedure to apply for recognition as a nonmember state.