Q&A with Ceylan Ozen of the Turkish Embassy

"We are not leaving the health of our citizens at the mercies of other countries."

June 6, 2010 05:25
2 minute read.
Media representatives sit on the compound walls du

Turkey Funeral 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

How does Turkey envisage the crisis over the flotilla being finally resolved, in terms of diplomatic relations with Israel? Will the end result be a healing of ties or a severing of ties?

I can only refer you to the official statements issued by the Turkish foreign minister and the relevant statements of the UN Security Council. (In his May 31 address to the UN Security Council, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused Israel of “murder conducted by a state” and said that “a nation state that follows this path has lost its legitimacy as a respectful member of the international community.” In a subsequent interview, he said Turkey would consider improving relations if Israel released its citizens, apologized and allowed an independent international investigation. If not, he said, “the consequences will be very tough.”)

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Do you have any comment about the impact on future Turkish-Israel military cooperation?

I cannot comment on that.

What about suggestions that Turkey might send its own naval vessels to accompany future ships heading for Gaza?

I have seen no suggestion that this might happen.

What are you able to talk to me about?

As you know, we evacuated our citizens (who had been on the flotilla) yesterday (Wednesday). Today we are dealing with the well-being and health of those who remain. There are two Turkish citizens in Rambam hospital in Haifa, and there is another wounded person who we now know is Turkish. As we have made clear, we are not leaving the health of our citizens at the mercies of other countries. As you also know, the ambassador left this morning (Thursday).

How should we interpret his departure?

He was called back for consultations.

Can you comment on Israeli reports that the violent activists on board the Mavi Marmara were hired thugs recruited in Turkey, and that they carried no ID papers?

All nine of those who were killed were Turkish citizens. We knew right away that three of them were Turkish nationals. Today, after all the bodies were flown to Turkey, the identities of the others were confirmed by their relatives. The three had their ID documents. The other six, their ID documents were lost, obviously.

Would it be accurate to say that Turkey seems to be treating Israel as an enemy over this affair, or is that an unfair characterization?

I can’t comment, except to tell you to read the relevant official statements very carefully. Our reactions are very clearly defined. (Davutoglu, in his UN address, demanded that Israel apologize to the international community and [to] those who had been killed and wounded; sought an urgent inquiry and appropriate international legal action; urged the immediate retrieval and release of the deceased, the wounded and the ships; called for financial compensation to those affected; and demanded the immediate end to the blockade of Gaza.)

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