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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Davutoglu denies Israel listed as a threat

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has denied that Israel is on turkey's 'red list' as a potential threat. Of course, it took him over a month to issue the denial.
"That news does not have any verification and does not have any validity - it is just speculation," Mr. Davutoglu told reporters, referring to a Turkish media report from late October claiming that Turkey's National Security Council had listed Israel as a "major threat" in its "red book" while removing the designation from Iran and Syria.

The report was widely publicized in Israel, prompting the Israeli tourism minister to call for his countrymen not to visit Turkey.

Mr. Davutoglu also denied a second report, published recently by the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv, which quoted him saying that "Israel will not be able to remain an independent country" and calling for a joint Israeli-Palestinian state.

"I don't know why the Israeli press is doing this always," he said. "I am a young person ... my memory is quite good. I didn't make such a speech anywhere."
What's going on here is that Davutoglu is trying to walk back some of the most flagrant anti-Israel statements he and his Prime Minister have made in light of the Wikileaks disclosures of how Turkey is perceived by other countries.
In the cables, Ankara-based diplomats call Mr. Davutoglu "extremely dangerous" and say evidence supports the "thesis that [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan simply hates Israel."

Mr. Davutoglu said in response that "when Israel was working for peace, we had good relations with Israel," citing Turkey's mediation of indirect Israeli-Syrian peace talks.

He recalled a meeting, held before Israel's 2008 war against Hamas in Gaza, in which then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came to Mr. Erdogan's house for a round of indirect talks with Syria. "And ... there was a telephone link with President Bashar Assad in Syria and indirectly Ehud Olmert was speaking to Bashar Assad through Prime Minister Erdogan and myself," he said.
Oh, how exciting....
Turkish-Israeli relations, long characterized by close cooperation on defense and intelligence, began deteriorating in late December 2008, when Israel launched an offensive against Hamas in Gaza - a campaign that Turkish leaders, and Mr. Erdogan in particular, loudly opposed.
Actually, they were spiraling downward before that.

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