Tayyip Erdogan 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Murad Sezer)
Turkish warships will escort any Turkish aid vessels to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks broadcast on Al Jazeera television on Thursday.
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Erdogan also said that Turkey had taken steps to stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting natural resources from the eastern Mediterranean, according to Al Jazeera's Arabic translation of excerpts of the interview, which was conducted in Turkish.
The comments from Erdogan came as Turkey has downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and heated up rhetoric against the Jewish State in the aftermath of the publication of the UN Palmer Commission report on the Mavi Maramara
raid and Israel's refusal to answer Turkish demands to apologize for the incident.
Erdogan, when asked Wednesday
by reporters about the economic cost to Turkey of the sanctions the
country has taken against Israel, said, “The cost could be $15 or $150
million. We, as Turkey, would not be bothered by this. What is important
for us is that we don’t let anyone trample on our pride.”
Erdogan, who has rattled the saber by promising to step up naval patrols
in the eastern Mediterranean to ensure freedom of maritime traffic, and
who has frozen all defense contracts with Israel, also used the
opportunity to preach to Israel about business ethics.
He accused Israel of not providing maintenance for Heron unmanned aerial
vehicles that Israel Aerospace Industries supplied to Turkey last year.
In 2005, IAI and Elbit Systems won a $183m. contract to supply 10 Heron
UAVs and associated systems to the Turkish Air Force. Deliveries were
completed last year.
“Israel is not being loyal to bilateral agreements in the defense industry,” Turkish Today’s Zaman
website quoted Erdogan as saying. “There could be difficulties,
problems with another country, such things may happen, but there is an
international code of ethics that needs to be upheld in business
Turkey and Egypt will hold a joint naval exercise at the end of the
year, according to an unconfirmed report in Egyptian news Web site
'Masrawy' Thursday. An unnamed Egyptian official told the web site the
drill would help in the exchange of knowledge and combat techniques
between the countries.
Erdogan will make an official visit to Cairo next week and meet with
high-ranking Egyptian officials in a bid to strengthen strategic and
business relations between the two countries.