'Everyone knows how important ties are'

Everyone knows how impo

October 29, 2009 13:10
1 minute read.

In his first public appearance since arriving here, Turkey's Ambassador to Israel Ahmet Oguz Celikkol said Thursday he was committed to improving and deepening ties between Ankara and Jerusalem. "Everyone knows how important the relationship is between Israel and Turkey, but it is also very important to understand Turkey's role in the world and the region," he said. Speaking at a conference taking place at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Celikkol stated that "good relations with Israel are part of Turkey's global aspirations." The ambassador emphasized the importance of ties between non-governmental organizations in improving understanding between the countries. "I plan to boost the ties between the media and the universities in the two states. I believe this will help the Turkish and Israeli societies understand each other better," said Celikkol. The ambassador's remarks seemed to echo those made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. Erdogan explained that Ankara was interested in "gaining friends" and that ties with Jerusalem would continue. During an official visit to Teheran, Erdogan said Turkey's foreign policy "is based on gaining friends, not enemies," and said relations with Israel "will be going on within the principle of justice and rightness." Erdogan also reiterated Turkey's willingness to resume mediating peace talks between Syria and Israel. Ahead of his trip to Iran, however, the Turkish premier accused Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of threatening to attack the Gaza Strip with a nuclear weapon. He also called Iran Turkey's friend, in an interview published in The Guardian on Monday. While Erdogan insisted that the strategic alliance between Israel and Turkey still exists, he appeared to be on better terms with the Iranian leaders than with Israeli ones. "There is no doubt he is our friend," Erdogan said of Ahmadinejad, who has called on several occasions for Israel's destruction. "As a friend, so far we have very good relations and have had no difficulty at all."

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