Turkey-Israel relations ‘close’ to normalization: FM Davutoğlu

Turkey-Israel relations ‘close’ to normalization: FM Davutoğlu

Davutoğlu says
Turkey-Israel relations ‘close’ to normalization: FM Davutoğlu

Nine Turkish citizens were killed during Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara vessel in 2010. Israel apologized to Turkey in 2013 for the killings. Hürriyet photo

Turkey and Israel are the closest they have been to a normalization of bilateral relations since the Mavi Marmara incident, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said.

“There has recently been a momentum and new approach in compensation talks. We could say that most of the differences have been removed recently in these discussions,” Davutoğlu said Feb. 9 in a televised interview. 

Stressing that there are “positive developments” in compensation talks and that “serious progress has een achieved,” he refrained from giving an exact time for a finalization of the process.

Davutoğlu also avoided announcing the amount of compensation being discussed for the victims of the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, but did say that the difference in amount between what Turkey demanded and Israel offered had narrowed compared to May 2013.

“These issues will be discussed with the families [of the Mavi Marmara victims] after the outcome [of the compensation talks] is clarified,” he said.

Citing another pre-condition of Ankara for the normalization of ties, Davutoğlu cited an easing of the embargo on Gaza and claimed that compensation talks and subsequent steps would be important to this end. 

Davutoğlu did not give a time frame for the reciprocal appointing of ambassadors, but said Turkey’s representation in Israel would be “significant” in order to “monitor and to coordinate humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

Stopped trucks to Syria indirectly helped ISIL

Meanwhile, the foreign minister also touched on the issue of the arms-filled Turkish trucks that were stopped en route to Syria last month in Adana, saying the halting “indirectly helped the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL].” Davutoğlu said ISIL had increased its oppression of Turkmens in Syria after the blocking of trucks that he claimed were carrying aid from Turkey to Turkmen groups. He said Turkmen groups eventually had to withdraw from their positions because they could not receive humanitarian aid.

He also slammed media outlets who reported about a U.S. Treasury Department list that targeted Turkish citizen Ali Canko and the Iran-based Tiva Sanat Group, after Canko allegedly assisted an attempt to procure and reverse-engineer a weapons-capable fast boat for the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. The news report accused Turkey of having an affiliation to al-Qaeda, but the reality is merely about a Turkish citizen and the necessary investigation will be launched by the authorities, Davutoğlu said. He also added that the expected visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has dropped from the agenda in 2014 “due to the upcoming Iraqi elections and the security problems in Iraq.”