There is no shift from the Western bloc, says envoy

There is no shift from the Western bloc, says envoy

ISTANBUL - Ahmet Davutoğlu, the government’s key figure on Middle East policy, dismissed claims yesterday that Turkey is drifting apart from the Western bloc.

"Turkey cannot prioritize its relations with the East or the West," said Ahmet Davutoğlu, chief advisor to the prime minister, at a press conference in Istanbul. Some perceived Turkish support for Hamas during the Israeli attack on Gaza as Turkey drifting toward a more Middle East- and Islamic-oriented policy.

"Turkey has to follow an integrated foreign policy. It cannot have priority with the EU at the expense of its relations with the Middle East, the Caucasus or the Balkans, or vice versa," said Davutoğlu. "The deeper its EU perspective, the bigger its influence in the Middle East will be. The bigger its weight on the Middle East, the more influential Turkey will be within the EU."

Davutoğlu also dismissed criticism that Turkey's policy during the latest crisis was one-sided, that it is in support of Hamas. "We have not based our whole policy on Hamas. We have a policy taking Hamas into account," he said.

Davutoğlu justified Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s harsh criticism of Israel as a necessity in voicing the conscience of the region. "Turkey is not against the people of Israel. But Turkey will voice its criticism if the wrong policies are pursued. A country’s leader cannot remain silent in the face of wrong policies," he said.

"If there has been dual cease-fire declared in Gaza, this is thanks to the efforts of Turkey," said Davutoğlu, who has been doing shuttle diplomacy in the region.

No competition with Egypt
According to Davutoğlu there cannot be a solution in Gaza without the participation of Egypt. "Therefore we are not in competition with Egypt," said Davutoğlu, dismissing claims that Turkey has been trying to steal the spotlight from Egypt. Arguing that there also cannot be a solution in the region without the participation of Syria, Davutoğlu said Turkey has the confidence of both countries, which have tense relations.

Turkey will continue its efforts to maintain the sustainability of the cease-fire, said Davutoğlu, adding that Turkey has offered both sides a roadmap. It included assuring the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers, opening the corridor for humanitarian aid, giving impetus to national reconciliation among Palestinians and the withdrawal of the embargo.
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