Turkish businessman calls for normalized ties with Israel
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
AA photoNormalizing diplomatic relations with Israel would help bolster the trade volume between Turkey and Israel, according to the chairman of the Turkish-Israeli Business Council at Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK).
“Trade relations between Israel and Turkey have considerable potential, regardless of the current state of our diplomatic ties,” Hasan Akçakayalıoğlu told Anadolu Agency.
“Even at a time of weak diplomatic relations, business [between us] still increased,” he said.
Turkish-Israeli relations were suspended in 2010 when Israeli forces stormed the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla, killing 10 Turkish activists.
Ankara later demanded a formal apology for the incident, monetary compensation for the families of those killed, and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his “regret” for the incident in 2013, the latter two conditions have yet to be met.
“Normalizing diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel will benefit both countries,” Akçakayalıoğlu said.
He noted that the number of Israelis visiting Turkey on an annual basis had fallen to around 220,000, down from an earlier 700,000.
“Turkey also has the potential to take in at least 1 million Israeli tourists each year,” he said.
“With the normalization of ties, Israeli natural gas will be able to reach European markets through Turkey,” he said. “This would be a win-win solution that would multiply our trade volumes.”
Turkey’s exports to Israel rose by 13 percent to around $2.7 billion from 2011 to 2015, according to official Turkish statistics.
Over the same period, Turkish imports from Israel dropped from around $2 billion to $1.6 billion.