Monday, October 31, 2005

Turkey is not Happy with Ahmadinejad’s Israel Statements

Turkish Weekly:

31 October 2005

ANKARA (JTW) - Turkey expressed disapproval of comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for the destruction of ‘Zionist regime’ and said it would make no changes to its flourishing ties with Israel, AFP reported. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triggered international outrage when he told a conference in Tehran Wednesday that ‘Zionist regime’ (Israel) should be "wiped off the map".

The Iranian leader also said that "anyone who signs a treaty which recognizes the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world," and warned Muslim leaders who recognize Israel that they "face the wrath of their own people." However Iran declared that it has no plan to attack Israel.

"Naturally it is not possible for us to approve of such a statement," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement. The Turkish ministry underlined that it was Turkey's "own judgment and preference" to establish ties with regional countries on the basis of internationally recognized borders.

"Turkey maintains its determination to pursue ties based on mutual respect and cooperation with all regional countries and believes that regional conflicts can be resolved only through peaceful methods and dialogue based on international legitimacy," the statement added.

Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but a strictly secular state, has been Israel’s main regional ally since 1996 when the two countries signed a military cooperation accord, much to the anger of Iran. Turkey also has good relations with many Arab states, including Palestine and Syria. The trade between Turkey and Arab world has dramatically increased in the recent years and Turkey established strategic relations with the Arab world after the Iraq War. Arab countries supported Turkey’s EU bid.

Ankara and Tehran, on the other hand, have recently bolstered cooperation after years of trading accusations that each side was sheltering each others' opponents and amid Turkish charges that Tehran was seeking to export its Islamic revolution. Turkey and Iran shares similar views on Iraq problem. However, Ankara finds Iran’s attitude towards the US and Israel radical. “Iran’s timing is awful” says Turkish Middle East experts Sedat Laciner regarding Ahmadinejad’s statements about Israel. “Time is to restore the relations and boost regional integration. Neither Iran nor Turkey has time to lose. Both countries must focus on economic co-operation. Otherwise the fate of the region would be the same. Ahmedinejad should realize that he cannot change anything in the region by just speaking and accusing. He should do something real like economic development and regional co-operation” Dr. Laciner added.

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