Turkey says Israel not welcome at NATO summit (REUTERS) Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Janet Lawrence ISTANBUL, TURKEY 04/23/12 8:38am EDT)
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(Reuters) - Turkey has refused to allow Israel to take part in a NATO
summit next month because the Jewish state has not apologized for the
2010 killing of Turkish activists in a raid on a ship taking aid to
Palestinians, a Turkish official said on Monday.
Relations between the regional powers deteriorated sharply after
Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara aid vessel in May 2010 to
enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in
clashes with activists.
Last September, Turkey expelled Israel´s envoy and froze military
cooperation after a U.N. report on the raid failed to prompt an
apology from Israel.
"We did not give our consent on that issue," a Turkish official told
Reuters when asked if Turkey was blocking Israel´s participation in a
NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21.
He said Turkey was still seeking an official apology and compensation
for the victims of the Mavi Marmara raid.
"NATO is an alliance and even though Israel is not a member its
attendance means ... positive dialogue with NATO and all its members
and without sorting this issue out we deem it not appropriate for
Israel to be around," the official said.
Turkish media reported that some NATO members had sought Israel´s
participation in the summit as part of the alliance´s partnership
cooperation program, designed to strengthen relations with non-member
Israel is a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach
program, along with six other non-NATO countries.
The Turkish official rejected the description of the move as
Turkey "blocking" Israel´s attendance, saying the NATO secretariat
and NATO allies would not bring the issue to the agenda officially,
knowing Ankara´s stance on the issue.
A NATO spokeswoman said there had not been a discussion on inviting
Israel to the Chicago summit.
The United States has tried to encourage a rapprochement between
Turkey and Israel in the face of turmoil in the Middle East.
The issue of Israel´s participation was brought up at a NATO foreign
ministers´ meeting in Brussels on April 18 attended by Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey´s Hurriyet Daily News said.
It said ministers from some NATO countries, including the United
States, France and Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen,
indirectly criticized Turkey for bringing its bilateral problems with
Israel to the NATO platform.
"You are talking about being partners and partnership values. But
partners, first of all, should act like partners, so that we´ll treat
them accordingly," the paper reported Davutoglu as telling his NATO
colleagues. (Additional Reporting by Sebastian Moffett; Writing by
Daren Butler; Editing by Janet Lawrence) (© Thomson Reuters 2012.
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