Turkish PM says apology over flotilla a condition for restoring ties with Israel

[ 09/07/2011 – 04:14 PM ]

ANKARA / JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again refused to normalize relations with Israel before it formally apologizes for the 2010 Gaza flotilla attack and lifts the siege on the Gaza Strip.

The statement came as the Turkish premier presented the government’s new program before the parliament. He asserted that Israel’s flotilla attack last year breached international law, and he reinstated demands that Israel compensate the Turks killed and injured on board the flotilla’s ships.

PM Erdogan also said that ending the siege on the Gaza Strip would be a fundamental prerequisite for resuming natural relations with Israel.

Erdogan pledged that his government would follow the UN investigations into the flotilla incident.

Israeli war minister Ehud Barak said he was displeased over Erdogan’s position on the flotilla, emphasizing Israel’s major strategic interest in settling the diplomatic crisis with Turkey.

On the UN report that followed an investigation into the flotilla attack, Barak said the report, to be released soon, would confirm the legitimacy of Israel’s siege on Gaza and that Israel acted according to international law when intercepting the Gaza flotilla.

Israel’s relations with Turkey have spiraled since Israel’s bloody aggression on the Gaza Strip in 2008-9. Relations hit lows after Israel’s naval forces attacked the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 killing nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara ship and injuring many.

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