Turkish FM coy on reports of 'Marmara' reparations

By
December 9, 2010 17:57

Ayalon says gov’t should not apologize or pay compensation; Olmert criticizes Netanyahu for willingness to compensate Turkish families.




Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Davutoglu 311. (photo credit:Associated Press)

Turkish-Israeli discussions to end the diplomatic crisis between the countries continue, but talk that Israel proposed payment of $100,000 to the families of each of the nine Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara was speculation, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday.

According to a report on the Istanbul- based Hurriyet daily’s website, Davutoglu’s comments came during a press conference in Ankara with his Syrian counterpart.

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In Jerusalem, meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, when asked whether Israel should apologize or pay compensation to the Turks, answered “no,” but declined to elaborate because the talks with the Turks were continuing.


Ayalon himself was forced to apologize to Ankara earlier this year after seating Turkey’s ambassador on a lower chair when he called him in to protest anti-Semitic shows on Turkish television.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also come out against any gestures toward Ankara, with sources close to him saying that the Turks should apologize to Israel.

This opinion is not merely held by the political echelon inside the Foreign Ministry, but also by a number of diplomats in senior positions who say that Israel has nothing to apologize about, and that it was Turkey, not Israel, that sent the ship with activists from a terrorist-supporting organization to infringe upon another country’s sovereignty.

One official said the Turks don’t seem interested in reaching a compromise, since they are insisting that Israel issue a full-throated apology, and not suffice with a statement expressing “regret” for the incident.

Another official said there was no guarantee that an apology would satisfy Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose verbal attacks on Israel began well before May 31’s flotilla incident.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his reported willingness to pay reparations to Turkish families, Army Radio reported.

“When we justly said that no one would break the blockade of Gaza and no one would attempt to bring ships into a place that could possibly endanger the security of Israel – we prevented this and we felt very strongly about our decisions,” Olmert said. “Today, we’re thinking about reparations and on how to apologize?” The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, denied reports that Ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy had asked to return home six months early.

According to these reports, Levy asked to return early after a US cable released by WikiLeaks quoted him as saying that Erdogan was a “fundamentalist” who “hates us religiously.”

Levy’s tenure expires in the summer.

The Foreign Ministry is not expected to name a replacement until it becomes clear where the relations are going, concerned that Ankara may decide not to grant accreditation to a new envoy.

Turkey pulled its ambassador from Israel after the flotilla incident.

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