Gul: "The govt has no say in nongovernmental groups"
The government has no ability to stop a Gaza-bound aid flotilla later this month, as the trip is being organized by a nongovernmental organization, reiterated President Abdullah Gul yesterday. "It is out of the question for the state to organize or direct NGOs toward anything. NGOs make their own decisions," Gul said, responding to calls from the US and Israel to stop the flotilla. Gul's statement echoed ones made by other government figures, insisting that Turkey halting the flotilla would amount to intervening in Turkey's civil society. Last month a group of US congressmen sent a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asking him to prevent the flotilla from causing a "provocation" that might lead to a repeat of last year's violence, in which nine Turkish peace activists were killed when Israeli forces raided a flotilla led by the Mavi Marmara. Gul yesterday went on to criticize the Israeli blockade of Gaza as illegal and lacking international legitimacy. "This embargo has no legal basis and has no place within the framework of international law," he said "As such, many NGOs from around the world are trying to send aid to Gaza."