Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said this week that Turkey’s recent polices in the Middle East “have made Israel kneel down” in front of Turkey and isolated the Jewish State in the region.
The Turkey-based Today’s Zaman reported that Davutoğlu made the comments in remarks he made during budget talks in the Turkish Parliament on Wednesday.
According to the report, Davutoğlu responded to claims by the opposition that Turkey’s foreign policy is dependent on Western countries and that there is a shift of axis in Turkey's foreign policy towards the East.
He said that Turkey has been acting independently with regard to recent uprisings against authoritarian regimes in Middle Eastern and North African countries, adding the country had never remained silent in the face of “oppression.”
“It is our policies which made Israel kneel down in the region in front of us,” he claimed. “We have always sided with people who demand democracy, not with authoritarian and oppressive regimes.”
Davutoğlu added that those who strongly criticized Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy last year as being unrealistic now support this policy. He added that the government is determined to go ahead with the policy but added that “we cannot remain silent if one of our neighbors oppresses its people.”
The deterioration in the relationship between the two countries began when Turkey demanded that Israel apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish nationals onboard the Mavi Marmara in May of 2010. The Turkish citizens were killed when Israeli soldiers who boarded the Gaza-bound ship were forced to open fire after being attacked by the activists on board with clubs and knives.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan further deteriorated the tense situation when he chose to verbally attack Israel on several occasions.
Turkish president Abdullah Gul accused Israel earlier this week of not taking advantage of the changes in the Middle East to achieve peace with the Palestinian Authority and the entire Arab world.
“As the democracy in the Middle East grows, Israel will eventually have to stop the violence in ‘Palestine’”, Gul said.
He also claimed that Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas terror group, is a supporter of democracy and is willing to live in peace alongside Israel. Gul based his remarks on statements made by Mashaal during a visit to Turkey in June.