Davutoğlu says Turkey reserves right to act over Gaza raid 10Jul10 July 11, 2010

Today’s Zaman -  10 July 2010

Turkey is entitled to take any measure to protect its citizens’ rights if Israel fails to apologize or accept an international inquiry into its raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has stated.

“A national investigation is not acceptable for Turkey because the accused party cannot be the prosecutor and judge at the same time. Now we expect Israel either to apologize and accept the crime or to accept an international investigation. I think this is a just and fair request from Turkey. If they do not follow these two alternatives then, of course, Turkey, as a respected nation and state, has the right to take any measure to protect the rights of civilians, of citizens. There was one American citizen [who was killed on the Gaza-bound aid ship]. Of course, it is America’s decision what to do for him but for us it is the dignity of the state to protect the rights of our citizens.

Whatever is needed for this we will take action,” Davutoğlu said at a joint press conference following talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London on Thursday.

The Israeli navy stormed an aid flotilla heading for Gaza on May 31, killing eight Turks and a Turkish-American on board a Turkish ship. Israel said its commandos acted in self-defense.

“If Israel wants to improve relations with us then it should accept accountability and do all the necessary actions to prevent the deterioration of relations,” Davutoğlu said, while recalling that back in 2008, when the former Israeli government was in office, Turkey was mediating indirect talks between Israel and Syria.

“There was good coordination and cooperation on all these issues. So it is not, this is not, this was not a decision by Turkey. The deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations was because of the decisions and violations of the Israeli government against international law. This is our position,” he added.

Earlier this week, Davutoğlu said offering an official apology to Turkey and paying compensation for the families of the victims of the attack on the Mavi Marmara are the minimum steps required from Israel under international law.

Israel has said it has no intention of issuing a formal apology to Turkey and has rejected calls for an international inquiry. It has set up a commission headed by a retired Israeli Supreme Court judge and includes two non-voting foreign observers to investigate the incident.

Stating that Turkey wanted to play a constructive role as a Middle East mediator, as it has done in negotiations between Israel and Syria, Davutoğlu added: “No one should tell us we are losing our mediating role because of our stand on Israel’s policy on Gaza.”

In an interview with the Financial Times published on Thursday, Davutoğlu made it clear that relations with Israel would not improve without an independent and international investigation into the raid.

“Somebody cannot be the accused, the prosecutor and the judge at the same time,” he said. “The Turkish-Israel relation is at a very critical stage, and what will be happening in the coming weeks and months will be based on the Israel attitude. … There will be no normalization; definitely our relations will be reviewed by us, from all perspectives.”

In remarks delivered at the Chatham House think tank in London, Davutoğlu, meanwhile, stated that Turkey still believes that there is a chance that Iran will complete a nuclear fuel swap on the basis of an agreement reached with Turkey and Brazil in May.

“The Tehran agreement is dead. There [are] new sanctions. But there is a possibility of resolving this exchange of uranium based on the Tehran agreement. We have to use that,” Davutoğlu said.

“Iran must be more transparent, more open and fulfill the commitments of the Tehran agreement and the P5+1 [the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany] must give a chance to this diplomacy rather than going to a confrontational attitude,” he said.

“Turkey will continue to work for this diplomatic solution. We don’t want military intervention in our region. We don’t want more and more sanctions which will affect our economy. We don’t want nuclear weapons in our region.”

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