Davutoglu: "Israel needs to take steps to restore ties with Turkey"
Israel should take steps to avoid further deterioration in its relations with Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday. Davutoglu's remarks came at a joint press conference in London, after his meeting with British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague. Again urging Israel to officially apologize to Turkey for its deadly May 31 attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which left nine Turkish peace activists dead, Davutoglu said Tel Aviv has to respect international law. Turkey has laid down three conditions Israel must fulfill for Turkey to re-normalize its ties with Israel: extend an official apology to Turkey, pay compensation to the families of the raid victims, and agree to an international investigation into the incident. Davutoglu recently warned of a complete break in ties if Israel fails to make an official apology to Turkey. Touching on Turkey's European Union accession bid, Davutoglu said it remains a top priority for Ankara. For his part, Hague said bilateral ties between Britain and Turkey are set to grow stronger. During his visit to London, Davutoglu also addressed a conference on the role of transatlantic relations today, held by Chatham House, a leading institute for the debate and analysis of international issues. Criticizing Western discussion over whether the West is "losing" Turkey, Davutoglu said Turkey is not an object that can be found or lost. A smear campaign based on such questions is being waged against Turkey, Davutoglu said, adding that people uneasy over Turkey's higher diplomatic profile in recent years are behind the campaign. In related news, speaking to CNN yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a hopeful note about mending Turkish-Israeli ties, saying, "I look for every opportunity to see if we can stop this deterioration (in ties) and somehow get things back to normal or relatively normal." But Netanyahu still ruled an out any apology to Turkey over the flotilla attack.