Turkey: Secret meeting unsuccessful

Turkey's demands to Israel are unchanged after Brussels meeting.

July 1, 2010 19:47
2 minute read.
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey PM Erdogan 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Despite a secret meeting between Turkey and Israel, Turkey's demands remain unchanged, according to a Reuters report Thursday.

The meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer took place in Brussels on Wednesday.

Turkey wants Israel to apologize for the Flotilla raid, agree to UN inquiry into the incident, pay compensation, and end the blockade of the Gaza Strip in order to mend relations between the two countries.

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The meeting sparked controversy in Israel, with Ben-Eliezer having been sent without the knowledge of Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman.

The meeting, which became public after it was reported by Israeli TV, was the first contact between Turkish and Israeli government officials since relations between the two former allies reached a new low over the deaths of eight Turks and a Turkish-American in the raid.

Few details have emerged about the meeting, but Foreign Ministry Spokesman Burak Ozugergin said that the two discussed "the latest state of relations."

During the meeting, Davutoglu "once again relayed the steps that Israel needs to take relations further," Ozugergin told The Associated Press.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador to protest the raid and is barring some military planes from using its airspace. Turkish officials have said the envoy will not return until Israel takes steps to meet the demands.

Israel insists commandos involved in the May 31 raid acted in self-defense after being attacked by pro-Palestinian activists and has launched its own probe into the incident.

The meeting caused a spat within Israel's ruling coalition. Israel's own foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said he was not informed and blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what he called a "serious blow to the trust" between them.

Lieberman, who is known for his blunt style, is a divisive figure at home and largely unpopular abroad and is widely seen to have been sidelined in foreign policy by Netanyahu.

Lieberman's comment led Netanyahu's office to release a statement confirming the meeting but explaining that it was initiated by the Turks and was "unofficial." The statement did not name the Turkish participant and said the failure to inform Israel's foreign minister was due to an unspecified "technical reason."

In Ankara, Ozugergin denied that the meeting was initiated by Turkey, insisting that the "request came from the Israeli side."

Another Turkish government official said the two ministers did not make any arrangements for a further meeting, but did not rule out the possibility of more talks in the future. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.

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