Turkey recalls top envoy

Ankara warns of potentially irreparable harm to ties.

Turkish ambassador Oguz Celikkol (photo credit: AP)
Turkish ambassador Oguz Celikkol
(photo credit: AP)
Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel on Monday and warned that theIDF’s pre-dawn raid on the Gaza flotilla might have caused“irreversible consequences” in the relationship between the twocountries.
“It should be known that we are not going to remain silent in the faceof this inhumane state terrorism,” said Turkish Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan amid initial reports that Turkish nationals may havebeen among the dead and wounded.
Turkey canceled three joint military drills with Israel and called onthe UN Security Council to hold an emergency session on the matter.
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Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that a youth soccer team in Israel would be brought home as well.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Israel was surprised to hear that Turkey had asked its ambassador, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, to return to Ankara. The issue had not come up in a conversation the Foreign Ministry had with Celikkol on Monday morning, nor in the conversation that Israel’s ambassador to Turkey had with officials in Ankara.
Turkey’s Deputy Under-Secretary Selim Yenel told The Jerusalem Post that the decision to recall the ambassador had been taken only after those meetings were held.
“Under the circumstances,” he said, “it was the least we could do.”
Turkey has recalled its ambassador from other countries in response to much less.
He said he did not know how long it would be before the ambassador was returned. At present, he said, Celikkol had been “recalled for consultations.”
But there was no question, he added, that Israel’s actions had harmedthe relationship between the two countries, which has been rocky sincethe IDF’s military operation in Gaza in January 2009.
“We have tried to salvage the relationship,” he said.
Yenelnoted that it was important to stress that “this is not aTurkish-Israel incident,” but an issue of Israel’s relationship withthe international community.
This was an attack on a “peaceful ship,” said Yenel, who dismissed the IDF claim that it had been attacked.
There are peaceful ways of preventing boats from entering one’s territory, he said.
“We expect Israel to act in a responsible fashion and to make amends,” he added.
However,Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman defended Israel’s actions, withoutwhich, he said, ships like this one could transport weapons to Gaza.
Israelhad the right, as did any sovereign nation, to inspect ships headinginto its waters, he said. The foreign minister added that Israel “hasnot changed its attitude toward Turkey; it is Turkey which haschanged.”