Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of threatening to attack the Gaza Strip with a nuclear weapon and has called Iran Turkey's friend, in an interview published Monday in The Guardian.
Lieberman's media adviser Tzahi Moshe disregarded Erdogan's allegation, saying "we do not respond to every piece of nonsense."
While Erdogan insisted that the strategic alliance between Israel and Turkey still exists, he appeared at present to be in better relations with Iranian leaders than with Israeli ones.
"There is no doubt he is our friend," Erdogan said of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called on several occasions for the destruction of Israel. "As a friend so far we have very good relations and have had no difficulty at all."
Erdogan, the paper reported, will be visiting Teheran later this week and will meet with Ahmadinejad and Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for talks focusing on commercial ties between the countries.
Erdogan rejected Western concern over Iran's nuclear program, saying "Iran does not accept it is building a weapon. They are working on nuclear power for the purposes of energy only."
Despite his heavy criticism of Israel, Erdogan was not worried that Turkey's relations with the US would be damaged. "I don't think there is any possibility of that. America's policy in this region is not dictated by Israel," he said.
Erdogan also criticized Europe's reluctance to accept Turkey into the EU.
"Among leaders in Europe there are those who have prejudices against Turkey, like France and Germanyâ€¦It is an unfair attitude. The European Union is violating its own rules," he said. "Being in the European Union we would be building bridges between the 1.5 billion people of Muslim world to the non-Muslim world. They have to see this. If they ignore it, it brings weakness to the EU."