British press spotlights Cameron's Ankara talks, recognizing Turkey's rising international clou
British Prime Minister David Cameron's landmark two-day official visit to Turkey early this week attracted widespread coverage in British newspapers, which highlighted Turkey's growing clout on the global stage, and its importance for Britain and Europe. An editorial published in The Guardian yesterday, entitled "Turkey: A Vital Player," said the dramatic expansion of Turkey's influence is more than just the product of a "hyper-active" foreign minister, referring to the energetic Ahmet Davutoglu. Stressing Cameron's characterization of Gaza under Israeli blockade as a "giant open prison" and a "prison camp" at a joint press conference alongside Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the editorial said, "What David Cameron said about Gaza was not new. He had already said that it was a giant open prison, and adding the word 'camp' was not to ratchet up the rhetoric. What made it his strongest intervention yet in the conflict was the fact that he was speaking in Turkey, alongside Israel's former ally and now scourge, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who went on to compare the Israeli forces that attacked the flotilla to Somali pirates. The lesson of this is that a British prime minister can say something in Westminster which he cannot repeat in Ankara. This acknowledges how important a regional power Turkey has become." During that press conference, Cameron called Israel's May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which left 9 Turkish peace activists dead, unacceptable. Urging that the Israeli inquiry into the incident be swift and transparent, Cameron also backed Turkey's demand for an international investigation into the raid. On Israel's blockade of Gaza, Cameron said, "The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp." Underlining the role that Turkey is playing and will play in the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Central Asia, The Guardian said that Turkey is effectively using soft power in foreign policy. "Though there are differences of opinion between Turkey and the duo of EU and the US on such issues as Iran and Hamas, this makes Turkey's mediator role more attractive," it said. The Financial Times also underlined Cameron's criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. It also stressed Cameron calling the current situation in Turkish-British ties a "golden era." The Independent said while Cameron's words on Gaza were welcomed in Ankara, they were not in Israel. The Times said Ankara welcomed Cameron criticizing Germany and France for opposing Turkey's European Union accession, and comparing Gaza to an open air prison.