Lieberman: We´re Ready to Talk to Turkey, but Not Apologize (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Elad Benari 07/24/12)
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Israel is ready to solve any outstanding disputes with Turkey, but it
will not apologize to Ankara for the deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara
ship in May 2010, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.
Lieberman made the comments during a meeting on Sunday with a group
of journalists from Turkey in his office in Jerusalem. The Turkish
newspaper Hurriyet reported his comments on Monday.
“As Israel, we are ready to discuss [our problems with Turkey] in
high-level or low-level open meetings,” said Lieberman. “We’re really
ready to discuss not only this issue but also the Iranian problem,
the Gaza issue or the support for Hamas. But [we’re not ready] to
discuss in what way we will protect our citizens.”
The meeting was Lieberman’s first with a Turkish delegation since the
incident on the Marmara, which occurred when the ship refused to turn
aside when ordered to, attempting instead to break the blockade on
Gaza by force. When IDF soldiers boarded the ship they were violently
attacked. Soldiers opened fire in response, killing nine Turkish
Lieberman said Israel had no reason to apologize for the raid,
something the Turkish government sees as a must if it is to restore
ties with Israel.
“[The Mavi Marmara mission] was a clear provocation and it was our
right to protect the lives of our soldiers. Frankly speaking, Israel
has no reason to apologize,” he said.
“Even if Israel apologizes for the attack, that will change nothing,”
Lieberman said. “During his speeches in Parliament, Mr. [Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan has repeatedly said that an
apology will not improve the relations and that [Turkey] has
additional conditions. Turkey has a long [list of] other conditions,
including the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, [returning]
to the border lines before 1967, compensation, et cetera. But this is
not the best way to settle disagreements.”
He added he had personally tried to arrange a meeting with Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu without success.
“I think the picture is very bad. [But] we don’t have any disputes
with Turkey – [either] territorial or historical. The opposite is
true. The Jewish people have lived for hundreds of years in [Turkey]
in safety, even during World War II,” he said, adding the dispute
with Turkey had not started with the current Israeli government but
with the former government led by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Lieberman said the row stemmed from “a strategic decision” by Erdoğan
and Davutoğlu. “[Erdoğan] thinks the best way to be the leader of the
Islamic world is to confront Israel. It is the same regarding the
issue of the Gaza blockade,” he said.
In the past two years, Lieberman noted, Erdoğan’s speeches on Israel
have gone beyond criticism to the point of insult.
“[Still] we are really trying to keep silent despite every verbal
attack against Israel from Mr. Erdoğan and Mr. Davutoğlu, and we are
still trying not to create unnecessary tensions,” he said, adding
that solving the deadlock could “take more years, sometimes less.
Even if we have disputes, we can resolve disputes in different ways
but not [in a way] like cutting diplomatic relations, or calling
ambassadors back to the capitals, or provoking each other.”
Lieberman also told the Turkish reporters that Israel has offered
assistance to the Syrian opposition, but the forces aiming at
toppling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime rejected it.
“We offered humanitarian assistance but they rejected it. Everybody
has told us that it is much better to keep the distance,” he
said. “We don’t want to impose ourselves on the Syrian opposition. It
is impossible to impose ourselves on somebody. We can only suggest
but cannot impose.”
The conversation with the journalists took place one day before
Lieberman left for Brussels for meetings with European foreign
Lieberman will ask European governments to place Hizbullah on their
lists of terror organizations, in the wake of last week’s terror
attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.
(IsraelNationalNews © 2011 07/24/12)
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