Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday thanked Israel and Norway for canceling their national day receptions in Ankara in light of a mining disaster in Soma.
“Some of them called our president [Abdullah Gul], some phoned the parliament speaker [Cemil Cicek] and shared in our grief. I would like to thank the leaders of the friendly and brother countries who called me and offered their condolences,” Erdogan said, according to the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman.
Israel, which had canceled a reception in honor Yom Ha’atzmaut in Ankara which was slated for May 14, announced last week that a similar reception scheduled for Tuesday in Istanbul was also canceled.
Norway similarly canceled a national day reception that was scheduled to be held last week, according to Today’s Zaman.
President Shimon Peres sent a letter of condolences to Erdogan over the incident last week, and offered Israeli assistance in the rescue operation.
Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained in recent years, in light of the Mavi Marmara incident of 2010.
The Mavi Marmara, which claimed to international media to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," was the largest ship in the flotilla aimed at breaking Israel's Gaza blockade on May 31, 2010.
The ship defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel - only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board.
The soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of nine of the activists on board.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid - in fact, no aid supplies at all - whatsoever.
When Israel refused Turkey’s demands to apologize for raiding the Marmara, Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador in Ankara.
It was under pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized last March to Erdogan for the deaths of the activists on the Marmara and talks began on the compensation agreement.
The sides have been engaged in talks since that time. Turkey’s Foreign Minister recently indicated that there were positive developments in the discussions.