Turkey: Israel Shouldn't Repeat Its Gaza Flotilla Mistake

Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this week, Turkish FM says it is Israel's responsibility to lift its blockade on the Strip, saying no one nation owned the Mediterranean.

Israel mustn't attempt to stop a planned aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip, Turkey's Foreign Minister told in an interview on Monday, adding that Turkey could do nothing to stop organizers from launching the flotilla.

Turkey said on Thursday it had received a request from Israel to help stop activists sailing to Gaza on the first anniversary of an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship, but it said the flotilla plan was not Ankara's concern.

Mavi Marmara - AP - May 2010

The comment comes after Ankara had already made it clear earlier this month that it would and could not stop the 15-ship aid flotilla, planned to set sail next month, a year after nine Turks were shot dead after Israeli marines stormed a flotilla organized by a Turkish Islamist charity.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged Israel not to "repeat the same mistake," adding that it was "Israel's responsibility not to implement [a blockade] against Gaza."

"A fact-finding mission of the UN declared that [the blockade] is illegal," Davutoglu said, adding that in last year's flotilla people were killed 72 miles [116 kilometers] from the coast, so this was in international waters. The Mediterranean does not belong to any nation."

Referring to Turkey's professed inability to stop flotilla organizers from going ahead with their plans, saying: "We can advise, we can say something, but we cannot stop the flotilla."

Turkey, a secular Muslim nation, has been an important regional ally of Israel for more than a decade.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party government, which has roots in banned Islamist movements, froze relations with Israel after the deadly raid.

Ankara has demanded an apology as a condition for mending ties, regardless of a UN probe's findings into the incident.