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Ankara hosts historic visit by Peres and Abbas 13 novembre 2007

Posted by Acturca in Economy / Economie, Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie.

Turkish Daily News
Monday, November 12, 2007, Ankara

Turkey is hosting an important meeting between the leaders of Israel and Palestine today, in a move to help them to ease tense relations ahead of a crucial international summit in the United States. With the aim of re-launching Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, this historic meeting is considered to be a crucial step before late November’s summit in Annapolis, Maryland. The visit will be one of the highest-level meetings between Israel and Palestine since the peace process of 1990s fell apart after the Camp David summit in 2000.

Israeli President Shimon Peres arrived in Ankara yesterday where he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will join Turkish President Abdullah Gül and other high-level officials. The official reason for this gathering is to oversee the conclusion of the framework agreement for the construction of a large industrial park in the West Bank, known as the Ankara Forum.

The framework agreement will be the most important achievement of the Ankara Forum that gathers Israeli and Palestinian businessmen together under the initiative of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB). TOBB president Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, Israel Manufacturer’s Union Shraga Brosch and the president of the Union of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture Chambers of Palestine Ahmed Hasim will sign the agreement Tuesday in a ceremony, in the presence of all three states’ presidents. 

Peres salutes memory of Atatürk

Peres arrived in Ankara at noon and was welcomed by Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül and high-level diplomats at the airport where tough security measures were in place. He rushed to visit Atatürk’s mausoleum and signed the special book: “I salute with respect the memory of brave chief commander Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on behalf of Jews and the State of Israel. Atatürk has changed the flow of history and created a new one…  His call for peace at home, peace in world is still being echoed in the entire world.”

Then Peres visited Bilkent University where he was given an honorary doctorate and hosted a conference on the regional developments.

First Israeli to address Parliament

Peres will be the first Israeli president to speak before the legislative body of a country whose population is largely Muslim. « Turkey can play a first-tier role in the peace process, » Peres said last week in Jerusalem, adding that the country’s moderate and democratic nature served as a counterweight to extremist Islam embodied by Iran. Peres and Abbas will be present in Parliament at the same time to hear each other’s speeches, which makes the event unique in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Turkey willing to listen

Peres stated that the speech of an Israeli and a Palestinian leader under the same parliament roof was an event unprecedented in history while speaking to NTV prior to his visit in Turkey. “This is a golden opportunity for me.” Peres maintained that his emphasis will be on Turkey’s role in the last century in the Muslim world and in Europe. “Turkey is the only country that managed to save itself from the clutches of an archaic tradition. It has chosen civilization instead of sticking to an empire. It inspires hope, all the while fighting against terrorism.”  Peres underlined Turkey’s unique position as a “Muslim country respected and trusted by everyone.” “It is special in that it can restore peace with Muslims and other communities while having a largely Muslim population,” said Peres.

Peres brushed off concerns about the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Islamic affiliations in an interview with the Turkish daily Radikal. “Turkey’s government changed but Turkish Israeli relations did not. This is a sign of the durability of our ties. Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan succeeded in transforming a conflicting aspect of the Turkish history to a new opening for the country’s future,” Peres said. By giving Israeli and Palestinian leaders the chance to speak in the Turkish Parliament, Turkey conveys a clear message: It is as important to listen as it is to speak.

Patience a must in fight against terror

Referring to Turkey’s fight with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Peres asserted that no compromise can be reached with terrorists. “PKK is not a political organization, it s a terrorist one. Every movement that uses terror is an enemy to democracy and to peace,” he maintained, adding that Israel knew the solution was not easy. “Our experience tells us that terror is not a thing that can be destroyed with a single move. You need to be very patient.” Washington’s attitude towards Turkey on the PKK issue is moving from neutrality to sympathy, according to Peres. “The U.S. and the Iraqi government have grasped that something must be done against the PKK,” he said.

Ankara Forum, industry for confidence building

Ankara Forum is an initiative launched by the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) in April 2005 in order to contribute to Israeli-Palestinian peace through developing industrial ties between the two communities. With the participation of the Union of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture Chambers of Palestine and Israel Manufacturer’s Union, the Forum extends “Industry for Peace” projects. Initially the project of Gaza’s Erez region was chosen to build a “free industrial zone for Palestine” in order to provide 8,000 Palestinians with job opportunities. The production in the zone would be granted custom-free exports to the United States, to the European Union and Arab countries, but subsequent conflicts prevented its implementation. The framework agreement that will be signed tomorrow at the seventh meeting of the Ankara Forum will launch the organized industry projects in the West Bank.   

Turkey is waiting for a decision from Abbas’ government on how much land could be allocated for the project.


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