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10 Questions for Recep Tayyip Erdogan

3 minute read
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

How do you feel the debate went at the U.N. over the Palestinians’ bid for statehood?

What is required to be done is for the U.N. Security Council to say yes to the legitimate demands of the people in Palestine. If anything else should be discussed at this moment, it should be between two states.

What would you do differently to make the peace process work?

The U.N. Security Council has issued more than 89 resolutions on prospective sanctions related to Israel, but they’ve never been executed. Whenever other countries are in question, you easily [impose] sanctions. What happens with Israel then? Had these sanctions been imposed, the Palestine-Israel conflict would have been resolved a long time ago.

The deaths of nine activists on the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships that the Israeli military stopped from reaching the Gaza Strip in 2010, greatly damaged relations between Israel and Turkey. What will it take for relations to improve?

As long as they refuse to apologize for the nine people of Turkish descent who lost their lives on the flotilla, as long as they refuse to pay compensation to the families and as long as the embargo on Gaza has not been lifted, the relations between the two countries will never be normalized.

Many of the Arab nations that have recently removed long-standing dictators look to the Turkish model of government. Will your help to those countries become subject to the same types of criticism that the U.S. faces when talking about democratic change?

If they want our help, we’ll provide any assistance they need. But we do not have a mentality of exporting our system.

Your relationship with President Bashar Assad of Syria also appears broken.

It is impossible to preserve my friendship with people who are allegedly leaders when they are attacking their own people, shooting at them, using tanks.

Has there been any change over the past few years in relations between the U.S. and Turkey?

The relationship, especially between us and Obama, has always been very positive.

What about over Israel?

We agree to disagree on certain issues.

What advice do you give to Iran and the U.S. to help break the deadlock between the two countries?

Although Iran does not have any nuclear weapons, you just presume they have such capability and try to ban it from the start. And let me ask you, Is it Israel or the countries in the vicinity of Israel that are under threat? Israel has nuclear weapons.

But you just agreed to install NATO radars in Turkey, and that clearly has Iran in mind.

The installment of a radar system is executed under the framework of NATO obligations. Just moments ago, I was speaking with President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad [of Iran]. And he didn’t even bother to ask me a question about this issue.

Is Turkey’s integration into Europe now a closed chapter?

We’re still determined, because no leader in the E.U. will be there forever. But Turkey is getting stronger as time goes by, and the situation of many European states is quite obvious.

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