Erdogan plans to sail to Gaza

Turkish PM may personally try to break blockade.

June 6, 2010 05:13
2 minute read.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Erdogan311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may personally try to break the Gaza blockade by sailing there, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal reported on Saturday.

The paper said the report was based on Turkish sources “in the know.”

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According to media reports, Erdogan may also consider sending Turkish Navy vessels to accompany future protest ships that head to Gaza.

To protest against Monday’s Israel Navy raid, Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Israel for consultations and spoken of reducing economic and military ties. It has rejected Israel’s explanation that its soldiers acted in self-defense after activists attacked them with clubs and metal bars.

Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the US, wrote in an article for The Washington Post that the incident enraged his country because “this was not an attack by a sworn enemy but by a friend with which Turkey has worked long and hard to develop constructive strategic and economic collaboration.”

He added that “this was the first such attack against civilian Turkish citizens by a foreign military force in our republic’s 87-year history.

“It will be up to Israel to decide how it reconstitutes its standing as a good bilateral partner and responsible member of the international community,” Tan wrote.

"Israel owes an apology to the Turkish Nation"

In the article, he reiterated what Turkey has said to Israel through the week: that to restore the relationship between the countries, Israel “can start by bringing an end to its blockade on Gaza.”

He added that further needed measures included “ending [Israel’s] inappropriate and disproportionate police actions toward the Palestinian civilians of that land” and “allowing a prompt, independent, impartial, credible and transparent international investigation into the incident.

“Moreover, Israel owes an apology to the Turkish nation,” Tan wrote.

He told reporters in Washington that “Israel cannot find any better friend in the region than Turkey. And Israel is about to lose that friend.”

Turkey wants the upcoming summit for a 20-member security group for the Asian region to condemn Monday’s raid on the flotilla of six Gaza-bound ships.

A Turkish government official said the deadly raid would be discussed during the June 7-8 Conference on Interactions and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.

He said Israel had yet to say if it would attend next week’s conference, where the prime minister of Russia and presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Syria are expected. Iraq and Vietnam are expected to be represented.

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