UK, Turkey FMs commemorate 10th year of al-Qaeda bombings in Istanbul

UK, Turkey FMs commemorate 10th year of al-Qaeda bombings in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
UK, Turkey FMs commemorate 10th year of al-Qaeda bombings in Istanbul

The ceremony was held at the British Consulate in Istanbul with the participation of Davutoğlu and Hague. AA Photo

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Turkish counterpart paid tribute to the victims of the 2003 Istanbul bombings in a ceremony on Nov. 20 marking the events’ 10th anniversary.

In the attacks, al-Qaeda detonated explosives targeted at the British consulate, an HSBC bank, and synagogues around the city, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more.

Hague, who is on a two-day trip to Turkey, met his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu, with whom he also gave a joint press conference.

“I will never forget the shock and horror we felt in my country,” Hague said at the conference, describing the terrorist operation as “the worst attack against a British diplomatic mission.”

Hague also vowed to continue fighting against terrorism and its causes as a way of honoring the memory of those who perished in the bombings 10 years ago.

“As democratic nations and allies, the United Kingdom and Turkey are working together closer than ever to deny terrorists the space and means to operate, and to help other countries become more stable and secure,” he said.

The ceremony was held at the British Consulate in Istanbul yesterday, with both Davutoğlu and Hague in attendance.

Defining the attacks as crimes against humanity, Davutoğlu said, “No matter how viciously and treasonous the attacks are and no matter which atrocious method is used to damage the human conscience, they will not succeed in breaking our solidarity against terror.”

The foreign minister also said Turkey and Britain would stand together against terror “today and tomorrow,” while saying terrorism could have no affiliation of with any religion, ethnicity or sect.

“We are always against affiliating terror with any religion, ethnicity or sect. Terror is a crime against humanity and those who commit this crime target all humanity,” said Davutoğlu.

Hague also said the orchestrators of the attacks failed to destroy British-Turkish inter-communal and bilateral relations.

“While the attackers hit their target that day 10 years ago, and took the lives of many innocents, they failed in their objectives: They failed to divide us – in fact our ties are the strongest they have ever been. They failed to weaken Turkey – as your society and your economy continue to strengthen. And they failed to set religions against each other, because people of all faiths all over the world, including in our two countries, have united in rejecting terrorism and extremism,” said Hague.

Hague also expressed gratitude to Turkey’s efforts in the aftermath of the attacks.

“Foreign Minister, we are deeply grateful for your country’s assistance after the attack, and your government’s efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. Hague also read a message sent from British Prime Minister David Cameron, in which he said “the memory of what happened then only reinforces our determination that terrorism must not succeed.”

On Nov. 20, 2003, a terrorist group attacked the British Consulate General and HSBC Bank offices in Istanbul with car bombs, killing 30 people, including British Consul General Roger Short, and wounding almost 400 people. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was targeting British interests in the country.

The Nov. 20 bombing came after simultaneous attacks on two synagogues in the city five days earlier. On Nov. 15, 2003, two trucks laden with explosives drove into two prominent synagogues in Istanbul, Neve Shalom and Beth Israel, killing 27 people and injuring 300 more.