Turkey marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has marked the International Holocaust Remembrance Day “paying respect to millions of Jews, Roma people, disabled persons as well as targeted minorities and groups systematically murdered by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.”
The Ottoman Empire and Turkey had been a safe haven where millions of people, including Jews, who were persecuted in different parts of the world throughout history, took shelter, said the written statement.
Turkey welcomed many Jews fleeing the Nazi atrocities during World War II, the ministry said.
“A considerable number of Jews were saved from being sent to concentration camps thanks to the determination of the Turkish Government and the remarkable efforts of Turkish diplomats,” it stated.
“We also take this occasion to honor the memories of Turkish diplomats who extended a helping hand to those victims,” the ministry noted, adding Holocaust victims will be commemorated in an online ceremony this year due to increasing COVID-19 cases.
Turkey maintains its uncompromising stance against anti-Semitism, xenophobia, racism, anti-Islam and all forms of intolerance and contributes to international cooperation in the fight against hate-based speech and crimes, the statement read.
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 26 said Israeli President Isaac Herzog would pay an official visit to Turkey in February, and he hailed it as a chance to mend frayed relations with the Jewish state.
“This visit could open a new chapter in relations between Turkey and Israel,” he said in an interview with Turkey’s NTV channel, adding that he was “ready to take steps in Israel’s direction in all areas, including natural gas.”
Relations between the two countries have been strained after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla carrying aid for the Gaza Strip in 2010. The attempts to restore the bilateral ties failed due to developments regarding Palestine.
However, the two countries have been working on a rapprochement in recent months, with Erdoğan, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, holding telephone talks with Herzog and other Israeli leaders.
Erdoğan said last week he was prepared to work with Israel on reviving an old project to ship Mediterranean gas to European clients via Turkey.
His remarks came after the United States reportedly dropped support for a rival pipeline project involving Israel and Turkey’s historic rival Greece.