Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for international "pressure" on Israel to make peace with the Palestinians Thursday.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Erdoğan blamed Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the Middle East crisis and poor relations with Turkey, giving strong backing to the Palestinian bid for full UN membership.
The Turkish prime minister, who is embroiled in a bitter diplomatic dispute with Israel over a 2010 deadly raid on an aid convoy to Gaza, called the Israel-Palestinian conflict a "bleeding wound" that the international community must heal.
"Those who govern Israel must see that real security is only possible by building real peace," Erdoğan said, adding Israel must understand that it cannot continue "in an environment of continuous strife and conflict."
The international community must understand that "it is necessary to put pressure on Israel to achieve peace, despite what those who govern this country do, and show them that they are not above the law."
Erdoğan made a new demand that Israel apologize for its deadly raid on a Turkish-led aid flotilla to Gaza in May 2010. He also criticized neighboring Syria's deadly crackdown on anti-government protests.
"We have many times warned the Syrian leadership" over the crackdown since mid-March, and "we have said that one cannot prosper through oppression and it is important to listen to the demands of the people and not point the gun at the people," Erdoğan said. "Turkey will continue to support the democratic demands of the people" in Syria where the UN says more than 2,700 people have been killed in the crackdown.
Erdogan Urges International Community to Act in Somalia, Slams Israel
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reached out to world nations to immediately act in Somalia to end starvation, which he said is a shame for the entire humanity, while slamming Israel for shrugging off United Nations Security Council resolutions and hindering peace in the Middle East.
Erdoğan harshly criticized the world's largest international body on Thursday during his historic UN address, saying the UN could not show the necessary leadership to win over fears threatening humanity, referring to Somalia, where he visited last month.
Speaking about the necessity of restructuring the UN and renewing its vision so that the international body protects the laws of humanity and does not serve the interests of a certain number of countries, Erdoğan said: "I have seen in Somalia last month the failure of the UN and the international community in dealing with the urgent needs of the world."
Recalling his own personal observations, he said it is impossible to describe the poverty and pain he witnessed in Somalia and said that it is a shame for the international community to see thousands of children dying because of lack of bread and water.
The Turkish prime minister said the two-decades long civil war in Somalia has basically destroyed all sources necessary for life, adding that Somali people are walking toward death in front of the entire global community.
"Today, the international community watches Somalia as if they were watching a film without a reaction. We have to deal with this picture, which is a test for the entire humanity," Erdoğan said.
According to Erdoğan, no one can talk about peace, justice and civilization in the world unless the voice of Somalia is heard.
Erdoğan also harshly criticized Israel for hindering peace in the Middle East and reiterated Turkey's position that the Jewish state must offer apology as a condition to restore ties.
He said Turkey wants to call on Israel to understand there was no substitute for peace and the picture in the region was not just an equation of "peace for security."
Erdoğan said there are hundreds of General Assembly decisions that were adopted on Israel and there are 89 Security Council resolutions, which Israel only shrugged off.
"What is more painful is that the UN has been incapable of taking the necessary steps to end the humanitarian tragedy that Palestinians have gone, and are, going through," Erdoğan stressed.
Erdoğan said Turkey is ready to extend all efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East, adding that Turkey will display active efforts to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, for recognition of the Palestinian state, to facilitate compromise among Palestinian groups, and to see an end to the blockade imposed on Gaza.
Erdoğan also pointed to what he called injustice regarding sanctions due to suspected nuclear activities. He said Israel, which utilizes phosphorus bomb and has a nuclear weapon in its arsenal, never faces sanctions but he said when the Western nations "smell similar bombs" in the region, they impose sanctions, referring to Iran's suspected nuclear program and sanctions on the regime to relinquish the nuclear activities.
Complaining of tolerance the international community is showing to Israel, Erdoğan underlined that it is Palestinian territories that are occupied, not Israeli ones and said "one has to ask permission from Israel to bring in a box of tomatoes to Palestine." He said Israeli leaders must realize that the real security for the Jewish nation is the advent of peace.
He also urged the world nations to press on Israel to show its leadership that the country is not above the rule of law.
The Turkish prime minister also asked the UN member states to recognize Palestine, which he said was in fact established by this body but never implemented.
Speaking about the deadly Israeli raid into Mavi Marmara ship, Erdoğan said Israel has made a big mistake to a friendly nation – Turkey. He said Turkey cannot remain silent and indifferent to an incident where Israel "martyrs nine of our citizens."
Erdoğan reiterated Turkey's position and said unless Turkey's demands – official apology, compensation and lifting Gaza blockade – are met, it is impossible for Turkey to restore ties with Israel. He appealed to the Israeli people and said he wants to underline that Turkey has no problem with the Israeli people.
"We have a problem with the Israeli government," he said, adding that the Israeli government should be blamed for being the primary source of tension between Turkey and Israel.
Turkish PM Against Use of 'Moderate' Term When Speaking of Islam
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied the expression of 'moderate Islam' widely used for his government in international media reports, adding that Islam excludes extremism and a Muslim must have serious problems to be a terrorist. Erdoğan also reiterated his definition of secularism, this time referring to the Turkish Constitution adopted in 1982 – the one his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has been attempting to change for a long time.
"I do not accept the expression 'moderate Islam.' Actually, Islam does not accept extremism. It is the religion of peace and does not allow terror. It is not correct to mention Islam and terrorism together," said Erdoğan, speaking in a televised interview on PBS, a United States public television channel. "If a Muslim becomes a terrorist, it means that he or she has serious problems. He or she has nothing to do with Islam," said Erdoğan, who was in New York to attend the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
"Is there any terrorist among Christians and Jews? The world has witnessed what happened in Norway, the U.K. and Spain. Christian and Jewish people can also become terrorists. It is not correct to identify Islam with terrorism," he added. "There is a definition of secularism in Turkey's Constitution dated 1982. According to it, individuals are not secular, but the state itself is secular. And the state has an equal distance to all religious groups. The state is the guarantee for those groups," said Erdoğan, taking his definition from the constitution prepared by the 1980 military coup leaders in Turkey.
"I explained it to the Egyptian, Tunisian and Libyan people," said Erdoğan, referring to his four-day visit to Arab uprising countries. "The U.S. has a different style of secularism and the Western world has its own understanding. There is not any opposition or enmity in our secularism against any religious beliefs. People in the Middle East, especially in Egypt, think that secularism is an anti-religious movement. I told them that was not correct," he said. "Turkey is an exemplary country with its predominantly Muslim population which proved that democracy and the Islam can co-exist."
Erdoğan said Turkey was working hard to become a member of the EU.
"I hope the EU will correct its mistake and does not give up Turkey for the sake of the Greek Cypriot administration." Meanwhile, Erdoğan's planned meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was delayed due to the intensity of meetings and is expected to be held Thursday or Friday, said Turkish Prime Ministry officials.
"Turkey and the U.S. have cooperated with each other to create a joint platform against terrorism and share intelligence in the region [northern Iraq]. They also have supported us in the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle issue," Erdoğan said, referring to Turkey's recent tensions with Israel over Israel's failure to apology for a raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship that killed nine Turkish citizens in May 2010.
"We have no negative feelings about the Israeli people. Our attitude in this issue is against the Israeli administration. And the Israeli administration, not the Israeli people, is solely responsible for the current state of affairs. I believe that the Israeli people are not happy with their current leadership," he said. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=pm-denies-term-8216moderate8217-as-islam-exclude-all-extremisims-2011-09-22
Turkish Minister Signals Possible Confrontation with Cyprus
Turkey has announced that a research ship will sail to northern Cyprus on Friday to kick off oil and gas surveys after the signing of a key accord with northern Cyprus.
The agreement laid claim to some zones also slated for exploration by the Greek Cypriots. Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, who made the announcement Thursday, said the exploration work would be carried out "primarily" in the northern waters of Cyprus, but "could extend into the overlapping areas if need be."
The Piri Reis research ship will sail from İzmir on Friday, Yıldız said, adding that it would be given as much of a military escort "as needed." The minister also stressed that Turkey was not out to create provocations in the region, saying he did not expect the Mediterranean to "heat up."
Yıldız reported interest from international firms in cooperating with Turkey on the drilling effort but did not give names. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots had vowed to promptly activate the continental shelf delimitation agreement signed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu in New York late Wednesday.
"We will quickly initiate procedures for the speedy ratification of the agreement in the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot parliaments," Erdoğan said after the signing.
The procedures for the issuing of a Turkish Cypriot oil and gas exploration license for the Turkish Petroleum Corporation will be also completed "in the shortest possible time," he said.
In a warning to the international business community, Erdoğan said Ankara would blacklist companies that cooperate with the Greek Cypriots to "keep them out of energy projects in Turkey and to impose certain sanctions on them." Speaking during a visit to Germany late Wednesday, Energy Minister Yıldız said Ankara had allocated a special fund for seismic research and that such surveys would now "further expand and continue" – both within the maritime boundaries set by the accord with northern Cyprus and off Turkey's Mediterranean port of Antalya.
Turkish Cypriot President Eroğlu described the accord as "a preventive measure aimed at dissuading the Greek Cypriots" from unilateral exploration.
"We will see how the Greek Cypriots act after we move forward a bit on the agreements with Turkey. We hope the Greek Cypriot exploration will be prevented," he said. Eroğlu claimed the Greek Cypriots "have tightly embraced Israel," referring to cooperation plans between the two on energy projects in the East Mediterranean.
"Their policy is aimed at Turkey as much as it is aimed at protecting their interests on gas exploration," he said. Erdoğan explained that the agreement "delineates a part of Turkey's and northern Cyprus' continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean with a line constructed by 27 coordinates determined on the basis of international law and equitable principles."
"The extension of the eastern and western ends of the delimitation line" has been linked to possible accords the parties may conclude in the future, and thus to the eventual settlement of the Cyprus conflict, said Erdoğan. The Greek Cypriots' "irresponsible, provocative and unilateral" action had shown that they "do not want to share a future with the Cypriot Turks," Erdoğan added.
Greek Cyprus Promises to Share Gas Proceeds with Turkish Cypriots
Greek Cyprus said on Thursday it was willing to share the benefits of any gas find with Turkish Cypriots before reaching a peace deal on the ethnically split island, in an apparent attempt to calm tensions with Turkey over Mediterranean energy reserves.
Greek Cypriots and their U.S. partner Noble Energy started drilling south of the island for gas this week, incurring the wrath of Turkey, which says such a move deprives Turkish Cypriots of their right to a share of the proceeds.
Speaking in New York, Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias said he wanted both Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to benefit from any find.
"My message to Turkey and to the Turkish Cypriots is to find a solution as soon as possible, but as president I guarantee that even before a solution, that if we have revenue, we will see in which way we can use the revenues for the benefit of the two communities. That must be very clear," Christofias said, according to an official statement.
His comments marked a softening of the stance adopted by Cyprus's Greek Cypriot administration, which represents the island internationally. Until now, authorities had said Turkish Cypriots would reap benefits from any gas discovery only after there was a deal on the island, split by war in 1974.
Turkey, which backs Turkish Cyprus, has challenged the right of Greek Cyprus and Israel to drill in an area believed to be the world's biggest gas find of the past decade. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the drilling "madness" on Tuesday.
Relations between Turkey and one-time ally Israel have deteriorated sharply in recent weeks over Israel's refusal to apologize for killing Turkish activists aboard a ship carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza last year.
On Wednesday, Turkey signed an agreement with Turkish Cypriots that will pave the way for rival gas and oil exploration off the island's north. It has said its navy and air force would be dispatched to the Mediterranean to escort its exploration vessels.
Turkey intervened north Cyprus in 1974 after a short-lived Greek Cypriot coup. It still maintains a heavy military presence in the north of the island, split by a ceasefire line manned by one of the world's oldest UN peacekeeping forces.
Ankara says the Greek Cypriots cannot tap reserves which belong to both communities of the island, and accuse them of undermining peace talks. Greek Cypriots accuse the Turkish side of dragging its feet.
"If Turkey indeed wishes to see the Turkish Cypriot community reap benefits from this gift of nature to Cyprus, it must convince Mr. (Derviş) Eroğlu to conclude an agreement," Christofias said, referring to the Turkish Cypriot President.
Despite tensions, both sides have continued to attend peace talks under the auspices of the United Nations. In principle, they agree on uniting Cyprus as a federation.
As part of talks, the sides have already agreed that administering natural resources would be a federal issue, but have not resolved the proportion of revenue which would be allocated to each side, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Attacks Escalating as Turkish Government Vows to Hit Hard
As terror attacks escalate in Turkey, the government is readying for a tougher fight, Prime Ministry sources said while in New York for United Nations meetings. Four more people were killed in attacks in the southeast, while a group affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for a deadly bomb blast Tuesday in Ankara.
The Fırat news agency, which is known to have close links to the PKK, reported on Thursday that the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or TAK, an offshoot of the PKK, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's bomb attack in central Ankara that resulted in three deaths and 34 injuries.
An e-mail addressed to the pro-Kurdish agency, and signed by TAK, claimed the attack "is a beginning."
"As we warned earlier, we have no sensitivity as a group. Everywhere is an operation zone and everywhere is a target," the e-mail read.
TAK put the blame for future attacks on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the government is "far from understanding the seriousness of the situation," and threatened to "carry the war to the metropolises," according to the Fırat news report.
The statement by the terror group came hours after suspected PKK militants carried out more attacks in the country's southeast.
Two village guards and one soldier were killed Wednesday night in the southeastern province of Van in clashes with the PKK militants while one police officer was killed and another was injured on Thursday in central Diyarbakır.
The two police officers attacked in the southeastern province, who were members of a motorized unit, were at a local mechanics shop having their motorcycle repaired, the Doğan news agency reported. The owner of the shop and one of his employees were also slightly injured in the attack.
Security forces acted quickly after the attack and detained two people allegedly linked to the deadly shooting, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin told reporters Thursday. The minister also said a grenade and many bullets were found in a bag near the attacked shop.
Meanwhile, police officers on Thursday raided homes and offices in six cities, including Istanbul and İzmir and detained 31 on accusations of having links to the alleged urban leg of the PKK.
The raids were against the suspected members of Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, security forces said. Among the detainees are Emine Aslan, a provincial executive of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, and Ahmet Demiroğlu, a member of the BDP's party assembly.
Aug 17: PKK, militants attacked a military post in the Çukurca district of Hakkari, killing 12 soldiers and wounding 11 others. The Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, launched a major air operation to strike PKK hideouts in northern Iraq after the attack.
Aug 18: Two soldiers were killed and seven people, including four civilians, were injured in simultaneous attacks in the Pervari and Eruh districts of the eastern province of Siirt. One PKK militant was captured and two others were killed in the clashes.
Aug 23: One soldier was killed and four others injured in a PKK attack on a military checkpoint near Değirmendere village in Diyarbakır.
Aug 27: One village guard was killed and four others injured in an ambush by PKK militants in the Midyat district of Mardin.
Aug 28: Ten people were slightly injured when a small bomb exploded on a beach in the Mediterranean resort town of Kemer.
Aug 28: Three soldiers were killed and three injured when a military vehicle hit a land mine in the Şemdinli district of the southeastern province of Hakkari. Hakkari Gov. Muammer Türker said two PKK militants trying to lay land mines near the Yüksekova district were killed in clashes.
Sept 3: Two members of the Turkish military's special forces were killed in Tunceli in clashes with PKK militants.
Sept 4: A police officer and his wife were killed when PKK militants attacked a football field in Tunceli while a group of police officers were playing.
Sept 11: PKK militants attacked the gendarmerie headquarters and a police building in the Şemdinli district of Şırnak. The three-hour clash resulted in the deaths of one soldier, one police officer and three civilians.
Sept 16: One soldier was killed and two others injured in clashes with PKK militants near the Genç district of Bingöl while another soldier was killed by a land mine explosion in Başkale district of Van.
Sept 20: Three civilians were killed and 34 others injured when a car bomb exploded in central Ankara.
Sept 20: Four women were killed when a PKK group attacked a civilian car near the police academy in Siirt. Also, a police cadet was killed when PKK militants opened fire on a police academy in Bitlis.
Sept 21: Two village guards and one soldier were killed in clashes with PKK militants in the Çatak district of Van.
Sept 22: One police officer was killed when PKK militants attacked a mechanics shop in central Diyarbakır.