Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he is prepared to normalize ties with Israel within days or weeks after counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for a deadly raid in 2010.
Erdogan, speaking on US broadcaster PBS late Monday, said US President Barack Obama was instrumental in arranging a phone call between the leaders of Israel and Turkey, once intimate allies, but who have been at odds since a 2010 Israeli assault on a Gaza-bound flotilla of aid ships in which soldiers shot dead nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists.
Officials said the two government in recent weeks have been narrowing the gap between them by overcoming sticking points including the amount of compensation to be paid to Turkey.
Erdogan said the issue has been resolved.
“We have come to an agreement… with respect to compensation,” he told PBS through a translator.
“And with respect to sending humanitarian aid to the people in Palestine through Turkey… is the other step of the negotiations, and with the completion of that phase we can move towards a process of normalization,” Erdogan said.
“I think we’re talking about days, weeks.”
The May 2010 Israeli assault on the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara in international waters en route to Gaza sparked widespread condemnation and provoked a major diplomatic crisis between the two sides.
Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador, demanded a formal apology and compensation, and an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Massacres of Armenians “not genocide”
Switching to a thorny subject for Turks, Edogan flatly denied that the World War I killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide, just days after his government offered condolences over the massacres for the first time.
“This is not possible because if such a genocide had been the case, would there have been Armenians living in this country?” Erdogan told US broadcaster PBS on Monday.
“We are a people who think genocide is a crime against humanity and we would never turn a blind eye to such action,” he added.
Erdogan last week offered his condolences over the 1915 massacre, calling it “our shared pain” in a statement marking the 99th anniversary of the start of the killings and mass deportations — an unprecedented move described by the United States as a historic gesture.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, a claim supported by several other countries.
Turkey argues 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers siding with invading Russian troops.
Full article: Erdogan: Turkey to normalize relations with Israel “within days” (alakhbar)