Turkey blocking Israel’s participation in NATO summit


From Celil Sagir, ZamanTurkey has blocked Israel’s participation in NATO’s upcoming Chicago summit in a sign of Turkey’s determination to prevent its new foe from cooperating with the alliance following a deadly ship raid.

Turkish and Israeli relations worsened in May 2010 and have remained strained since then after Israeli naval commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara, a ship carrying humanitarian aid to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade, killing nine Turkish civilians.

Turkey said it will not allow Israel, a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program with seven non-NATO nations, to take part in the alliance’s new “Partnership Cooperation Menu (PCM),” during a NATO meeting in Brussels last week attended by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Because of Ankara’s veto, Israel will not attend the NATO summit due to take place from May 20 to 21 in Chicago, an important diplomatic summit to be hosted by US President Barack Obama.

According to information obtained from Turkish diplomatic sources, Davutoğlu reacted to the criticism raised by some NATO members in the Brussels meeting who claimed bilateral problems should not be brought to the alliance by underlining that Turkey cannot consider a country which killed Turkish citizens in international waters as a partner.

Davutoğlu reminded the members that Turkey was a country that rescued citizens of other NATO member countries who were detained by Israel during the Mavi Marmara raid. “Go and tell Israel to apologize for the incident and to pay compensation for the Turkish citizens whom it massacred,” Davutoğlu said. . . .

A senior diplomatic source said Turkey’s bargaining power is too strong. “We [Turkey] are blocking Israel in many areas. We avoid contact with Israel in any international meeting,” the same source said.

Another diplomatic source emphasized that NATO-Israel relations could not be restored until Turkey-Israel relations are normalized. 

From Hurriyet Daily News: Some ministers of the allied 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. Some ministers went so far as to vow to veto the participation of Egypt, Mauritania, Algeria, Morocco and other partner countries in the activities of the Mediterranean Dialogue if Turkey continues to do so against Israel, something they called “a violation of NATO’s values.”

Criticism from Davutoğlu

In response to such statements, Davutoğlu harshly criticized his counterparts sitting around the same large table. “You are talking about being partners and partnership values. But partners, first of everything, should act like partners, so that we’ll treat them accordingly,” was the main message Davutoğlu delivered to his NATO colleagues. He elaborated:

– The army of a country which you call a partner killed our citizens upon a political order given by its administration. We do not call this kind of country a partner.

– Turkey evacuated from Israel not only Turks but citizens from many countries, after they were detained by Israeli forces due to Mavi Marmara incident. It also evacuated citizens of all nationalities from Libya and Syria without making distinction. Our expectation from all allied countries is to pay the same respect to our citizens as we do to yours.

– I assure you that Turkey will be the first country acting to protect the citizens of NATO countries in a similar incident. We believe in the notion of solidarity in NATO much more than the discrimination some of you have expressed.  (photo: Reuters)  (via @WPReview)

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