September 13, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 4130

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan: Israel's Attack on the Mavi Marmara Constitutes a Casus Belli; There will Be More and More Turkish Warships in the Eastern Mediterranean

September 13, 2011
Turkey, Syria | Special Dispatch No. 4130

Following are excerpts from an interview with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which aired on Al-Jazeera on September 11, 2011.

A Downgrade or Cancellation of Military, Commercial, and Political Relations with Israel, and a Challenge to Control of the Eastern Mediterranean

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: "The measures we have taken are only the beginning. As you know, we have taken five measures, and we will see the results of these measures in the days, weeks, and perhaps months to come.

"Israel must realize that it is accountable for its actions, past and present. It will realize this. We have seen that Israel has never observed any of the resolutions issued by the UN General Assembly or Security Council.

"Israel is behaving like a spoiled child. The military attack that took place in international waters against the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010 was not in keeping with any international laws or rights. This attack constitutes a casus belli, but we chose to act in a manner befitting the greatness of Turkey, and we adopt a patient position. [...]

"Israel adamantly refuses to apologize and to pay compensation. It also refuses to lift its siege on Gaza. By its insistence upon these political issues, Israel has rendered its relations with Turkey non-existent, and has doomed itself to remain alone. Now even the West views Israel in a different light. [...]

"From now on, Turkey's relations with Israel will be at the level of second secretary, and even this level will not be permanent.

"Second, we have frozen our commercial ties pertaining to military industries. Israel is not honest in this regard. It does not conform to proper commercial values. We have purchase and sale agreements, which include the maintenance of unmanned aircrafts by Israel. The agreement requires Israel to do this, but because of the problems between us, Israel has not handed these aircrafts over to us.

"Third, from now on, we will be seeing Turkish ships in the international waters of the eastern Mediterranean. We will be seeing them more and more. I am referring to Turkish military ships. The world will see more and more warships, especially in maritime areas in which we have economic interests. From now on, Israel will not be able to impose its influence in these regions however it likes. It must realize this.

"There is another important measure. Based upon its relations with us and our goodwill, Israel conducted joint military operations with us. Of course, a year ago, we stopped maneuvers of this kind. We cancelled them, and from now on, there will be no military cooperation or joint military maneuvers. This is impossible. We will not do this anymore."

"If the International Community is Incapable of Establishing Such Rights [of Aid to Gaza], We Cannot be Expected to Watch From the Sidelines"

"The fifth issue pertains to our slain brothers – the victims aboard the Marmara, in particular. We will defend their rights. We will give them the greatest support, and we will continue to defend their rights, and we will pursue their case in the Hague court to the end. [...]

"As you know, Israel has begun to declare its control over areas of economic influence, as it sees fit, and has declared them areas in which it has interests. It will see that it has no authority in these areas.

"Turkey has economic interests in these regions, especially in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey is a guarantor state in Cyprus, and its position is well known there. Therefore, Turkey must display its resolve there, and guarantee freedom of navigation in international waters at all times.

"With regard to the ships sailing to Gaza, [Turkey] will not hesitate to take measures. We will give all possible support to the transfer of humanitarian aid, and will provide the necessary arrangements. [...]

"If Israel does not do anything, Turkey will not carry out any military action. We will not repeat their mistake. We will not attack people in international waters. [...]

"We demand to establish rights with regard [to the aid to Gaza]. If the international community is incapable of establishing such rights, we cannot be expected to watch from the sidelines. [...]

"The main mission of Turkish military ships is to protect Turkish vessels. This is their duty. We will send humanitarian aid to [Gaza], and this aid will not be subject to any attack like the one on the Mavi Marmara. If they are attacked, the attackers will meet an appropriate response. [...]

Criticism of Bashar Al-Assad

"The Syrians did not help resolve the problems in Lebanon. Regretfully, they did not help us in Syria either. We are now seeing thousands being killed in Syria. How do they account for that? They say that their people is a terrorist people. They say that the terrorists are armed, and that they are killing those terrorists.

"Mr. Al-Assad, when you shell Latakia from the sea, how can you determine the target with precision? How can you then claim that you are killing terrorists? The same thing happened in Hama and in Homs. [...]

"We are facing an Al-Assad who has cast a shadow on his own legitimacy and who is on the verge of losing his legitimacy altogether." [...]

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