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Posted on on March 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Kerry Comes to Turkey With Rebuke of Its Leader Over Zionism Remark.

Published by New York Times on-line already: March 1, 2013

ANKARA, Turkey — Secretary of State John Kerry chastised Turkey’s prime minister on Friday for recently {that was the Wednesday talk at the Alliance of Civilizations” meeting in Vienna’s Presidential Rooms} calling Zionism a “crime against humanity,” a comment that could frustrate Mr. Kerry’s desire to see an improvement in estranged Turkish-Israeli relations.

When Mr. Kerry set off on Sunday on a nine-nation trip, his plan was to use his visit in Turkey to consult on trade, the crisis in Syria and other Middle East issues.

But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a United Nations forum in Vienna that the international community should consider Islamophobia a crime against humanity “like Zionism or anti-Semitism or fascism.”

The next day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel described Mr. Erdogan’s remarks as a “dark and false statement.”

By Friday Mr. Kerry was faced with the task of trying to discourage another outburst from the Turks and salvaging some chance of an improvement in ties between Turkey and Israel — the first a moderate Muslim-majority nation and important NATO ally, and the other the principal United States ally in the Middle East.

The Americans’ sternest message to the Turks was conveyed before Mr. Kerry’s plane even landed by a senior State Department official who spoke under ground rules that he not be identified by name.“This was particularly offensive,” the official said, referring to Mr. Erdogan’s comments. “It complicates our ability to do all of the things that we want to do together.”

Once in Ankara, Mr. Kerry initially approached the issue somewhat indirectly. Noting that he had attended a memorial event earlier in the day for a Turkish security guard who had been killed trying to stop suicide bomber at the American Embassy, Mr. Kerry said that this selflessness should inspire a “spirit of tolerance.”

“And that,” Mr. Kerry added, “includes all of the public statements made by all leaders.”

But in response to a question at a news conference with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Mr. Kerry was more direct.

“Obviously, we not only disagree with it. We found it objectionable,” Mr. Kerry said of Mr. Erdogan’s statement, noting that he planned to raise the matter Friday evening with the prime minister. The comments by Mr. Davutoglu suggested that it might not be an easy discussion.

The foreign minister insisted Turkey was not hostile to Israel and that the downturn in relations was Israel’s fault, referring to a 2010 episode in which eight Turks and an American of Turkish descent were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the lead ship of a pro-Palestinian activist flotilla that was trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

“If Israel is expected to hear positive comments from Turkey, I believe they need to revise their attitudes not only toward us but also toward the settlements in West Bank and the people of the region,” he added.

During the 1990s, Turkey and Israel enjoyed close cooperation in ties that were nurtured by the secular Turkish military and the Israeli national security establishment, Dan Arbell, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, wrote last year.

Relations began to deteriorate after Mr. Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 and Turkey adopted a more assertive regional posture, which often involved sharp criticism of Israel’s policies. Ties between the countries reached a low point with the deadly Gaza flotilla confrontation.

American officials said they would like to find some way to foster an improvement in Turkish-Israeli relations, which the official on Mr. Kerry’s plane described as “frozen.”

“We want to see a normalization, not just for the sake of the two countries but for the sake of the region and, frankly, for the symbolism,” the official said. “Not that long ago you had these two countries demonstrating that a majority Muslim country could have very positive and strong relations with the Jewish state.”

On Friday night, Mr. Kerry dined at Mr. Erdogan’s residence. The session began inauspiciously when Mr. Kerry apologized for being a little late because of his lengthy discussions with Mr. Davutoglu.

Mr. Erdogan, who seemed irritated, said that Mr. Kerry and Mr. Davutoglu “must have spoken about everything, so there is nothing left for us to talk about.”

“There’s a lot to talk about,” Mr. Kerry said. “We actually didn’t talk about everything.”

According to a State Department official, the Turkish prime minister and Mr. Kerry discussed the gamut of Middle East issues, including the recent meeting in Rome on the Syria conflict, the situation in Iraq, Iran and the prospects for reviving the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

American officials did not provide details on the exchange regarding Mr. Erdogan’s Zionism comments or whether the Turkish prime minister believed they had in any way been excessive.

The two men, the State Department official said, had a “frank discussion of the prime minister’s speech in Vienna and how to move forward.”

A version of this article appeared in print on March 2, 2013, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Kerry Comes to Turkey With Rebuke of Its Leader Over Zionism Remark.


The first page of the google of  Recep Tayyip Erdo?an:

Recep Tayyip Erdo?an is the 25th and current Prime Minister of Turkey, and the chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, which holds a majority of the seats in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Wikipedia
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