It’s taken a week, but the EU has finally condemned Turkish Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan’s characterization of Zionism as racism, with the body’s special
envoy Andreas Reinicke telling The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the comments
were “not helpful and unacceptable.”
The EU has come under criticism both
from Israeli officials and from various Jewish organizations for not joining the
White House, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
and the foreign ministers of Canada, Germany and Austria in denouncing Erdogan’s
Last week, at a UN framework for West-Islam Dialogue in Vienna,
the Turkish leader said, “It is necessary that we must consider – just like
Zionism, or anti-Semitism, or fascism – Islamophobia as a crime against
Reinicke’s comments came a day before President Shimon Peres –
who began a week-long trip on Tuesday to Brussels, Paris and Strasbourg to
strengthen Israel’s strategic ties with Europe – is scheduled to begin meeting
with EU leaders. This issue is likely to come up in those meetings.
those Peres will meet are EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, EU
Council President Hermann Van Rompuy, and European Parliament President Martin
Reinicke is the EU’s special representative to the Middle East
UN Watch, which drew attention to Erdogan’s words last
week, called for Barroso, Van Rompuy and Schulz to condemn the Turkish leader’s
In a related development, Israel’s envoy to Germany Yakov
Hadas-Handelsman canceled his participation in an interfaith event in Berlin
entitled “Muslims, Jews, Christians: Peace Is Possible,” because Deputy Turkish
Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was participating.
“I had hoped to attend
tomorrow’s meeting of the International Dialogue Institute (IDI) in parliament,
particularly because dialogue is the constructive element for understanding,”
the ambassador explained.
“Given the importance of this event, I expected
that the Turkish prime minister would retract his recent horrible statements and
lies about Zionism. Since that did not happen, I am forced to cancel my
participation in the event,” he said. “Erdogan’s statements contradict the
actual meaning of a dialogue.”
Last month, according to Turkish press
reports, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu refused to shake hands with
Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Munich Security Conference.
to Today’s Zaman, when Davutoglu snubbed Barak’s effort at a handshake, the
defense minister said, “As the distance between the two sides of the table is
wide, we could not reach each other’s hand.”
replied, “No, the problem is not the size of the table.
There will always
be a distance between us unless you meet our demands” – a reference to Ankara’s
demand for an Israeli apology over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.