News / Europe

Turkey Criticizes US Request to Delay PM's Gaza Visit

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Turkey,  April 22, 2013.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Turkey, April 22, 2013.
Reuters
Turkey on Monday criticized U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for asking Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to delay his planned visit to the Palestinian Gaza Strip, in a blunt put-down that underlined often prickly ties between the NATO allies.

Erdogan, who has for years spoken of his desire to visit the Palestinian enclave, said last week he planned to go in late May after an official visit to the United States earlier in the same month.

But during a visit to Turkey on Sunday, Kerry said he had asked the Turkish leader to delay his visit so as not to upset U.S. efforts to revive Ankara's ties with Israel and Middle East peace talks.

"Mr. Kerry's statement ... from a diplomatic perspective was objectionable, wrong and was incorrect," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters in Ankara.

"Only the Turkish government decides when and where the prime minister or any other Turkish official travels to," said Arinc, who also serves as the government spokesman.

During a visit to Turkey in March, Kerry also called a comment by Erdogan likening Zionism to crimes against humanity "objectionable", in a disagreement that has cast a pall over talks between Turkey and the United States.

Erdogan had been expected to visit Hamas-controlled Gaza this month but postponed his trip, apparently at the request of the United States. However, Arinc said Erdogan would have visited this month had his schedule allowed.

He will travel to Washington to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on May 16.

Hamas's refusal to recognize the Jewish state and past vows to destroy it are a key reason behind an Israeli blockade of the coastal territory since Hamas seized it from the more moderate pro-Western Fatah movement in 2007.

Europe and the United States have long demanded Hamas drop violence and recognise Israel as a condition for any dialogue.

Erdogan's planned trip would also come at a sensitive time for Turkish-Israeli relations, frozen after the 2010 killing by Israeli marines of nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship.

In March Obama brokered a first step in reconciliation between Turkey and Israel, two main allies of Washington in the  Middle East, by persuading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey over the incident.

Israeli Delegation

In another sign of rapprochement, an Israeli delegation was in Ankara on Monday for the first time since 2010 to discuss compensation to the victims' families.

"The meeting was generally a positive meeting ... the amount of compensation was not discussed ... and was not determined, but methods and rules of calculating the amount were discussed during the meeting," Arinc said after the talks.

Arinc said a second and possible third meeting would be held in order to resolve the issue, which would be a "major step toward full restoration of diplomatic ties".

The head of the Turkish delegation meeting the Israelis said the next meeting would be held in the next few days.

Turkey cut its once extensive ties with the Jewish state after the so-called "Mavi Marmara" incident in 2010, named after the Turkish ship which led the flotilla that tried to breach  Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Ankara expelled Israel's ambassador and froze military cooperation after a U.N. report into the incident, released in September 2011, largely exonerated the Jewish state.

It set precise conditions for normalizing ties - an apology, compensation and Israel lifting its embargo on Gaza.

A mending of ties between two of Washington's main allies in the region could bolster U.S. influence in the Middle East, help coordination to contain the spillover from the Syrian civil war and ease Israel's diplomatic isolation among its neighbors.

But for all the diplomatic flurry, a full restoration of ties still appeared some way off.

Israel has made clear it did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of the reconciliation, an oft-repeated Turkish demand, saying days after the apology that it could clamp down even harder on the enclave if security was threatened.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ozlam from: Canada
April 22, 2013 9:38 PM
Erdogan destroyed my country. We used to have a proud Military, proud people, today fear is everywhere. The proud Turkish Military is afraid from arrests and arbitrary detentions. The whole country is disfigured by fear. Very bad Economy. Secret Police MIT very bad - people disappear... NATO doesn't care because they are so corrupt and America try hard not to see - political correct... the Muslim Brotherhood have taken over my country

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid