Turkey to repair its ties with regional powers

Turkey wants to cooperate with Russia against ISIS

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country works towards normalizing its relations with regional powers and its neighbors in the Middle East.

Yildirim said in a news briefing on Saturday that Ankara would step up efforts to reduce “instability” in the region.

These efforts include playing the bigger role in resolving Syrian crisis and having closer relations with the power affecting Syrian and the region in general.

Since last month’s failed coup attempt , Turkey has been unhappy with the West’s muted response to the incident and frustrated with continued criticism of its human rights record.

As a result, it sought to work with Iran and Russia in Syria’s future and solving the crisis.

Although Russia and Iran are Assad’s main allies which put them at loggerheads with Turkey, this month Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin while Tehran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came to Ankara.

Prime Minister Yildirim told reporters on Saturday that Turkey also wants to normalize relations with other old allies, like Israel and Egypt.

Reconciliation agreement with Israel

Turkey’s parliament approved a reconciliation agreement signed with Israel in June which has brought to an end a six-year rift between the two regional powers, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.

Relations between Israel and Turkey crumbled after Israeli marines stormed a Turkish ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, killing 10 Turks on board.

Israel, which had already offered its apologies for the raid, agreed under the deal to pay out $20 million to the bereaved and wounded in return for Turkey dropping outstanding legal claims.

Under the deal, the naval blockade of Gaza, which Ankara had wanted to be lifted, remains in force, although humanitarian aid can continue to be transferred to Gaza via Israeli ports.

repairing ties with Egypt

Yildirim also said that Turkey wants to repair its ties with Egypt after relations soured over the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, had been a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party-led (AKP) government.

“We think we need to develop economic and cultural ties with Egypt as countries that use the two sides of the Mediterranean,” Yildirim told reporters.

However, he sounded a note of caution that high-level relations would not be repaired overnight.

“We think we need to start from somewhere,” he said.

Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia, one of the main backers of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is keen to see the two countries reconcile as it grows increasingly close to Turkey.

The US is not an enemy

Yildirim also insisted the United States was Turkey’s “strategic partner, not our enemy” despite Ankara’s anger at Washington for failing to extradite Fethullah Gulen, whom it blames for last month’s failed coup.

“There can be ups and downs in the two countries’ relations [but] we need to remove elements that harm our relations,” Yildirim told journalists in Istanbul, referring to the Pennsylvania-based cleric.

Ankara has for years accused Gulen of running a “parallel state” in Turkey and it also blamed him for ordering the failed coup attempt of July 15.

Ankara had previously suggested any failure deliver Gulen would severely damage bilateral ties and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said it was up to Washington to extradite him to prevent “anti-US feeling” in Turkey turning into “hate”.

The White House has confirmed that US Vice President Joe Biden will visit Ankara next week in the highest-ranking visit to Turkey by any Western official since the coup.

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