Davutoglu blames Israel for failure to mend ties
Turkey is willing to improve ties with Israel, but internal rifts within the Israeli government are complicating efforts, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday. "We intent to make peace with Israel. Why should we want bad relations with a country alongside which we're trying to broker peace?" Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul, referring to Turkey's 2008 mediation efforts between Israel and Syria. "But we're having difficulties when the other side doesn't have the same political will." Davutoglu said that earlier this month it took the Turkish government about two minutes to decide to send fire-fighting planes to help extinguish a devastating fire in Israel, while in Israel such a decision would have sparked days of debates between coalition partners that would have been been leaked to the press, in the end scuttling the plan. "With the makeup of the coalition, internal rivalry is fiercer than Israel's rivalry with other countries," he argued. Davutoglu also reiterated that the only way for Israel to improve ties is for it to apologize for a deadly May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship and compensate the families of the nine casualties. "Turkish citizens were killed in international waters, nothing can erase this truth," he said. Davutoglu also defended Turkey's policy on Iran's nuclear program, which some in the West allege shows Turkey is moving away from the West, saying it boosts Turkey's standing as an international actor. Turkey is categorically against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, he stressed, but it is also against restrictions on the rights of countries – including Turkey – to advance nuclear technology on the grounds that they could develop nuclear weapons. "The Turkish economy is growing," he said. "But since we lack (domestic) energy resources, there are only two alternatives left to meet our energy needs: renewable energy and nuclear energy." Davutoglu said Turkey has been telling Iran that it should allow international inspection of its atomic program, and added that Ankara would never agree to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) system. "We're telling Iran that if you seek to do so, we – before even the US – would oppose it," he said. Davutoglu dismissed claims that Ankara's foreign policy orientation has shifted towards the East, citing figures showing that 49 percent of his foreign visits were to countries in Europe and America, while visits to the Middle East and Asia made up 31 percent. He added that Turkey wants to be a country that makes effective contributions to the international system, as it is going through a process of restructuring. "In the past, the international system was defined by big powers and Turkey simply adjusted to it," he said. "In the new era, we're trying to become one of the central countries."