Erdogan signals thaw in Israel ties

Published January 19, 2022
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a press conference during an agreements signing ceremony with Serbian President after their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on Tuesday. — AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a press conference during an agreements signing ceremony with Serbian President after their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on Tuesday. — AFP

ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he is open to mending Turkey’s frayed ties with Israel following a reported drop in US support for a controversial Mediterranean gas pipeline.

Erdogan’s comments follow a year in which Turkey — battered by an economic crisis at home — has taken steps to improve relations with a host of regional rivals.

Turkey’s relations with Israel entered a deep freeze after the death of 10 civilians in an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla destined for the Gaza Strip in 2010.

Israel and a group of countries, including Turkey’s historic rival Greece, then began work on a joint pipeline to bring eastern Mediterranean Sea gas to Europe.

Turkey strongly opposed the project and staked its own territorial claims on the region’s energy wealth. The pipeline was also supported by the former administration of US president Donald Trump. But Israeli and other media have reported that Washington privately informed Greece last week that current US President Joe Biden’s team no longer backed the pipeline project because it created regional tensions with Turkey.

“I think the US decided to pull back after looking at the (project’s) finances,” Erdogan said during a joint media appearance with visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Erdogan said he was resurrecting talks with Israel on an old idea to bring Mediterranean gas to European clients via Turkey. “We can still do that,” Erdogan said.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022

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