Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

WRITTEN BY IQBAL TAMIMI Yesterday evening the Centre for Islamic Studies in Oxford hosted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by his wife Amina, whom I consider as an icon of a Muslim woman that deserves all the respect and admiration for her continuous support for the Palestinian women and her courage and dedication to human rights. A number of diplomatic personalities and statesmen accompanied the PM to Oxford after the last G20 summit meeting.

Erdogan was welcomed with a very long, warm applause, he spoke to the masses after some delay by the traffic in London which he apologized for, commenting in his usual humorous way that his counterpart Gordon Brown should do something to solve the traffic problem. ‘I used to think that the traffic jams in Turkey were the worst, but I discovered that London’s traffic is even worse,’ he said.  

The Turkish Bristolian group who I have accompanied included Sakir Yildirim who drove an eight thousand mile round trip delivering an ambulance loaded with practical aid to Gaza. Business man Talip Topuz waited a long time until he got Prime Minster Erdogan’s autograph and danced happily with it for quite a while. The Bristol PSC group were lucky to secure a place, while almost a thousand people had to return back home, for the crowds were much more than the expectations of the lecture organizers, but still some preferred to wait outside the hall. 

Most amazing was the relaxed atmosphere and the very friendly local police and security personnel, amongst whom were a British Muslim policewoman wearing a Hijab as part of her uniform.

Erdogan who had just arrived from the last meeting of the G20 summit held in London, during which he proposed solutions for the global economic crisis were discussed as well as another equally important issue of the mutual understanding and respect between people of different faiths and communities. 

“It is important that the Western community understands that Turkey is a country that identifies with the European region and is part of it, but at the same time the majority of our nation are Muslims,” he said.

His call for others to understand the importance of mutual respect of faith choice was clear, ‘I respect Jesus and Moses and the message they came with, and I expect others to have similar understanding and respect for my faith,“ he said.

One of the guests requested a comment from the Prime Minister regarding the incident when he stormed out of a conference held in Davos, which was attended by Israeli President Shimon Peres after Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Erdogan said, “I had to do the same in Georgia as well, because I saw a fierce barbaric attack on women, children, the elderly and the vulnerable who do not have the means to defend themselves, they were killed while no one from the international community intervened to stop this aggression, this I could not tolerate. I saw with my own eyes young Palestinian children being killed in Gaza. The situation is still bad, for Israel is still refusing to open this big prison of Gaza to allow for humanitarian aid and food to reach families in desperate need of help, the people of Gaza are still living in tents and in need of help. I spoke with Quartet envoy Tony Blair on this subject, and told him there is an urgent need to open the borders to allow the necessary building materials enter Gaza for rebuilding the badly damaged infrastructure.”

In response to a question about the expected timing of Turkey’s joining the European Union, Turkish Prime Minister said, “Until now, there is no set time. The UK had struggled for 11 years before joining the EU, and perhaps we should expect to wait as long. There is a routine procedure of examining two files at a time, and I always asked why only two, why not three.”

Erdogan also talked about Turkey’s organic farming plans: “There is a large extended border area between Turkey and Syria full of land mines; we plan to clean up the minefields and cultivate the area organically,” he commented on a question asked about farming in Turkey.

He also spoke about the upcoming visit of U.S. President Obama, expected to take place in Turkey next week and said, “I spoke with Quartet envoy Tony Blair as well, and discussed this issue with USA President Obama and we will discuss it again when he arrives in Turkey that there is an urgent need to find a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and such discussions should involve all Palestinian parties involved, including the Hamas.” (photo by Iqbal Tamimi)

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This article, which I only found yesterday, thanks to my friend Susanne, is slightly dated by a few weeks, but it is an absolutely astonishing document revealing the behind-the-scenes goings on prior to the current cease-fire in Gaza. Italian journalists of Arabmonitor, the first portal of the Arab World in Italy, have interviewed several of the key players who reveal steps Egypt has taken to block Turkey’s efforts at obtaining a ceasefire, their pressure on Hamas to “declare defeat”, the training of special troops of Dahlan in Egypt for a re-entry into Gaza, and the elation that Abu Mazen felt at the news of the assassinatin of Saed Siyam . Shocking reading….

THE EGYPTIAN NEGOTIATOR SHOUTED AT THE REPRESENTATIVES OF HAMAS: NOBODY IN THE ARAB WORLD CAN AFFORD TO SAY NO TO EGYPT
Damascus, January – The high-level representative of Hamas we had the opportunity to talk to chose to remain anonymous, considering the delicacy of the statements he had to make. With but a few hours into the assassination of Saed Siyam in the Gaza Strip and with equally short time left before the opening of the Arab-Islamic summit hosted by the Emir of Qatar, our interlocutor had been granted only two hours of sleep the previous night and his red-veined, deeply sunken eyeballs tell it all. He reveals to us that it’s not Egypt who is actually negotiating the terms of a cease-fire for Gaza, but Turkey: at least, as far as the demands from the Islamic resistance are concerned.
That is how we get to know that what the delegates of Hamas obtained from Egypt was not a draft for a cease-fire proposal, but a dictate: a lull in fighting for an initial two-weeks period, in order to allow for humanitarian aid to be distributed in the Gaza Strip and during which the terms for a durable long-term cease-fire would be negotiated. Cairo would actually opt for a twenty-years truce, but surely for nothing less than a fifteen-years duration of it, demanding at the same time the resistance to sign up on an unconditional defeat, to renounce armed struggle and refrain from military training for its members, as well as from producing and importing weapons.

During the short-term lull, the two-weeks halt of fire, there would be no opening of border crossings and even humanitarian aid allowed to pass into the Gaza Strip would do so at the discretion of Egypt and Israel.

“We thanked them, but explained that it was unacceptable. General Suleiman (head of the Egyptian intelligence) was furious and shouted: Nobody in the Arab world can afford to say no to Egypt”.

To describe the kind of game Cairo had been playing from early on in the run-up towards the Israeli aggression (starting 27 December), our interlocutor told us that on 26 December the Egyptians asked Hamas to “raise the white flag”, to declare defeat “and then we (the Egyptians) will intervene with the Israelis to guarantee your personal safety”. In any case, during this talk, which took place in the presence of some of Suleiman’s aides, the Egyptian interlocutors assured the Palestinians they had received guarantees from Israel that no military attack against Gaza was on the time-table. “In these three weeks of war there were days in which for periods of up to 48 hours they denied any passage through the Rafah crossing, even to gas canisters urgently needed by the surgical wards of Gaza hospitals.

That’s not all: since about ten days 400 of Mohammad Dahlan’s men (the former strongman of Fatah, the USA and Israel in the Gaza Strip) are guests hosted at an Egyptian military centre in al-Arish (provincial capital of Sinai), where they are being trained by Egyptians”. The plan is for these 400 to return to the Gaza Strip, if not on the back of Israeli tanks, then with the support from Egypt.

In recent days the waters of the Nile began to look very troubled, because Egypt did not appreciate at all the efforts of the Turkish delegation to mediate the terms of a cease-fire. General Suleiman initially even prevented the Turks from meeting the representatives of Hamas, demanding that he himself act as messenger between the two delegations. At a certain point, Ahmed Davotouglu, the senior advisor of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, ran out of patience and the Turkish delegation from Ankara obtained permission to access the Palestinians.

“The Turks went ahead with a quite pragmatic approach. They held out to Suleiman that the Egyptian proposal was, realistically speaking, unacceptable for us and came forward with ideas that would contain guarantees for us as well as for the Israelis. For instance, they proposed to establish a presence of international monitors directly at the crossings, in joint venture with Palestinian forces from the Authority in Gaza, who at the Rafah crossing ­ but only at the Rafah crossing ­ could also consist of a a mixed forces, that is, those of the Palestinian National Authority in addition to our own. According to the Turkish proposal, the international presence would be different from the one set up by the European Union at the Rafah crossing years ago, which practically implemented orders given by Israel through remote control by monitors. According to the new proposal, the forces at the border crossings would act as an independent authority. And again it were the Turks who proposed a time-table of possibly one year for the duration of the cease-fire. We consider Turkey a partner with whom to negotiate, because it has shown much realism”.

Among the key conditions proposed by the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement for a cease-fire there is the demand for a complete and definitive halt of the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, the immediate withdrawal of the invasion troops, who “could withdraw within two hours”, but whose evacuation should be accomplished latest within a couple of days, an end of the siege imposed on the area and the opening of all crossings, foremost of the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

We asked our talks partner to give us his evaluation of Abu Mazen’s performance during the present crisis. “Listen, shortly after the outbreak of the Israeli aggression he was called up on telephone by the Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Ramadan Shallah (who lives in Syria, in exile), asking him to make a gesture and to call Ismail Haniye in Gaza, to find out what was going on. Abu Mazen rejected the plea. We know from absolutely trustworthy sources that yesterday, when news reached them at the Moqata (Abu Mazen’s seat at Ramallah) that Saed Siyam had been killed, the political leaders present, among them Abu Mazen, congratulated themselves and handed out sweets. What could I ever say, at this point?”.

Abu Mazen’s term as President of the Palestinian National Authority has expired on 9 January. “Yes, but given the current circumstances, we don’t want to create additional problems and prefer to suspend the issue until after the end of the war against Gaza, following which, last not least, we must address the task of reconstruction in Gaza”.

Our interlocutor told us that last year, ahead of the Arab League summit in Damascus, Egypt had tried by every means to persuade Palestinian Authority President to boycott the meeting, but Abu Mazen responded: “If I don’t go there, my seat will be occupied by Khaled Meshaal (head of the Political Office of Hamas)”, which was the reason why he went to Damascus (at the recent Arab-Islamic emergency meeting in Doha, from which he remained absent, the seat for the leader representing the Palestinians was indeed occupied by Meshaal).

The Europeans also, who in public always took care to present themselves as “virtuous” in avoiding any contact with Hamas, during the past weeks held more than once talks with the Palestinian Islamic Resistance. “Some of them approached us to express their negative feelings over the fact that we, according to them, refused to abide by the existing cease-fire. When we pointed out to them, that is was in fact Israel who violated the cease-fire by refusing to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, these countries slipped away.

However, three European countries kept the lines open and we are still in contact with them. They offered their help to find a way out of the crisis. I can’t tell you the names of two of them, only that they are European Union members, one of them a leading power, and the other one driven by an ambitious policy. The third one to offer us their help is Norway”.

Nevertheless, on the American front some interesting developments are coming up. Daniel Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Israel, who is quite close to Barack Obama’s team, has met twice “as a private citizen” with Hamas leaders. His aim was to “pick up ideas”. The two talks took place in spring 2008 and then again last November, following Obama’s electoral victory. And then, how could we fail to recall that former US President Jimmy Carter had asked for a personal encounter with Khaled Meshal, and with other figures from the Hamas leadership, in April last year as well as in November.

source:

The World Economic Forum at Davos had an incredible moment of truth… After Shimon Peres was allowed to justify the wanton killing that the Jewish State engaged in over the territory they have strangled with their inhumane blockade, (and received applause for it by the men and women waiting for their champaign glasses to be filled after the dinner that of course was more important to them than hearing the words of the Prime Minister of the largest European State with a Muslim majority and one of the most strategic areas on the face of the earth), Tayyip Erdogan begins to respond to the barrage of filth poured out by Peres.

At the moment, our Turkish translators in www.tlaxcala.es are getting a verbatim translation of the intervention, which we will post up here as soon as it is available, but in the meantime,

Here is a translation found here: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/turkish-prime-minister-erdogan-leaves-the-debate-in-davos-translation/3833761515/?icid=VIDURVNWS06

Moderator: There was a heated debate here. This is a discussion that can

last for hours. We are already out of time.
Erdogan: One minute.
Moderator: Mr. President, well, you know
Erdodan: One minute, one minute! No! One minute.
Moderator: Ok, but I want you not to speak more than one minute.
Erdogan: Mr. Peres, you are older than me. Your voice is very loud. I know that you are speaking aloud because of the requirement of a sense of guilt. My voice will not be that loud. About murdering, you know killing very well. I am well aware how you murdered children on beaches. Two former prime ministers of your country had important sayings to me. You have former prime ministers who say When I entered Palestine over armed combat cars, I consider myself more and more pleased. I can give their names, maybe some of you wonder. Besides, I condemn those of you who applaud this persecution. Because applauding these killers who murdered those children, who massacred those people is, I believe, also another crime committed against humanity. Look, we cannot disregard a reality here. Here, I jotted down a lot of notes, but I dont have time to answer all of them. But, I will say you only two things:
Moderator: Excuse me Prime Minister, we can’t start the debate again.
Erdogan: Excuse me. First, excuse me, do NOT interrupt me! First, The Old Testament says in the 6th commandment: You shall not kill! But there is murder here. Second, this is also very interesting. Gilad Atzmon, a Jew himself, says: Israeli barbarity is far beyond even ordinary cruelty. Besides, Avi Shlaim, Professor of Oxford who performed his military duty in Israeli army, says in the Guardian the following:
Moderator: Prime Minister, Prime Minister. I wanna ask to our host.
Erdogan: Israel became a gangster state. (to the moderator) I thank you, too. For me, Davos is done for me from now on. I will not come again. You all know this in this way. You are not letting us speak. (Showing Peres) He spoke for 25 minutes, but you let e speak 12 minutes. No way!

********************

Well, we at PTT think several things must be said:
1) More leaders should have the courage to speak out about the atrocities and to isolate Israel from sitting on a stage and endorsing their violence, which has no justification. That Erdogan did this, (and used also as his source writing by one of our editors, Gilad Atzmon), can only encourage us in our belief that sooner or later even people responsible for the guiding of a country numbering almost 63 million people, will stand up to Israel and say enough is enough. We are waiting for other Leaders to follow, the ice has been broken.

2) To state the obvious is no longer verboten. Things have to be called with their names, a State that is a menace to humanity and violent beyond all decency MUST be denounced in the loudest terms possible. We can’t walk on eggshells anymore. For a leader to express the thoughts of his people (finally) rather than to kowtow to some impossible situation of sitting on the fence (and Turkey in many ways is a nation that has a lot to answer for in past and recent atrocities, as well as its position of support for the invasion of Iraq) moves a step in the right direction. It is NOT in the interests of Turkey to acquiesce all horrors and violence just to stay in the club. It is sometimes BEST to walk off when you realise the platform is there to present a justification for what cannot be justified. We believe that this brave action, widely appreciated by millions, is the first of a series. Of the entire Davos Forum, this was the moment cited in the news.. It is food for thought.

3) NO normalisation with Israel until they accept the rules of International Law. Thank you PM Erdogan, for listening to us, for using our words, and for using that international platform for expressing the views that we know millions of humanitarian people hold. You are enabling all of us.
Palestine Think Tank

Erdogan gets hero’s welcome upon his return to Turkey

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE50T20E20090130?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

(excerpt)

By Paul de Bendern

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan received a hero’s welcome on his return to Istanbul on Friday after accusing Israel of “knowing very well how to kill” during a heated debate at the World Economic Forum.

Erdogan stormed out of a debate on Israel’s Gaza offensive on Thursday, and vowed he might never return to the annual gathering of the rich and powerful in Davos.

President Shimon Peres had launched a fiery defense of his country’s offensive in Gaza over the past month, and with a raised voice and pointed finger, questioned what Erdogan would do if rockets were fired at Istanbul every night.

“When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill,” Erdogan, visibly angry, responded as he sat next to Peres at the debate, which also included United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Arab League chief Amr Moussa.

Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but secular country that historically has had good ties with Israel and the Arab world, played a role in helping broker an end to the Gaza offensive this month, particularly by lobbying the Islamist Hamas group to declare a ceasefire.

Thousands of people gathered at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport to greet Erdogan when he returned, waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting “Turkey is proud of you.”

“Our people would have expected the same reaction from any Turkish prime minister,” he told a news conference at Ataturk airport on Friday morning after speaking to the crowd.

“This was a matter of the esteem and prestige of my country. Hence, my reaction had to be clear. I could not have allowed anyone to poison the prestige and in particular the honor of my country,” he said.

“Our reproaches are not against the Israeli people or Jews. Our reproach is totally against the Israeli administration,” Erdogan said.