Turkey, 12 others denounce raid

Declaration from Balkan summit "deplores deaths"; wants int'l probe.

Turkey Flag 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Turkey Flag 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey and 12 other southeastern European countries on Wednesday denounced the recent Israeli raid on an aid flotilla headed to Gaza.
A joint declaration at a Balkan summit in Istanbul said: "We deplore the loss of life and injuries during the incident in international waters," in the eastern Mediterranean on May 31. The raid left eight Turks and one Turkish American dead.
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The countries say they want "an impartial, independent and internationally credible investigation on this matter." They stress the urgent need to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, saying they expect announcements from Israel on easing the blockade of Gaza to be quickly followed by "concrete measures" with immediate positive impact on the lives of the people of Gaza.
The statement came at the end of a meeting of the 13-member Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP).
A new flotilla to Gaza, this time leaving from Lebanon, is expected to set sail in the coming days. Both Israel and Lebanon have issued warnings to each other about potential violence aboard the ships.
Lebanon said Wednesday that it will hold Israel responsible for any attack against the blockade-busting ships.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Beirut last week about boats setting sail for Gaza from Lebanon.
“I am saying clearly to the Lebanese government,” Barak said in a statement, “you are responsible for vessels leaving your ports with the clear intention of trying to block the naval blockade of Gaza.”