Israel, Jerusalem / corr Trend R.Mammadov / Trend's interview with Namik Tana, the Turkish Ambassador to Israel
Question: You were one of those who supported the establishment of Diaspora organizations like the Congress of Azerbaijanis in Near East. What are your views on prospects of this idea?
Answer: Relations with Azerbaijan are of strategic importance for us like the relations with Israel. We should develop and encourage relations and cooperation on trilateral basis. Azerbaijanis are our brothers worldwide, including in Israel. Though several years ago we did know each other, now we speak and understand each other in the same language. It indicates to historical heritage of our nations and we are proud of that. I see real and loyal representatives of the Turkish lobby in the Congress, who are prepared to protect interests of Azerbaijan and Turkey in the region. As an ambassador of Turkey to Israel I am prepared to render all assistance to support prospective projects of the organization which will promote trilateral cooperation and partnership between Turkey, Israel and Azerbaijan.
Question: What are your views on the prospects of entrance of Azerbaijan energy resources to the world markets via Turkey and Israel?
Answer: Currently, Turkey is an important transit place in the world. Many energy pipelines, running to the West, are passing via Turkey. The strategic pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan also runs through my country's territory. From this aspect, I want to say that there is a strategy of multiprofile pipelines with respect to Israel. On this strategy, the energy resources running from the Black Sea are delivered to Ashkelon, south Israel, and from Ashkelon to Eylat, where the pipeline has existed for many years. There is a real and perspective opportunity in Eylat to supply Azerbaijani energy resources to the market of Middle East, China and India. Along with this pipeline strategy, we will witness connection of the Black and Red Sea. This a huge project, but very relevant, profitable and global. In this respect, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, the Israeli Infrastructure Minister, is expected to visit Turkey at the invitation of the Turkish Energy Minister. Indeed, the above described ambitious project will be one of the top issues during the future talks.
Question: How did the decision by several Jewish lobby organizations based in the United States on recognition of the so-called 'Armenian genocide' affect the strategic partnership between Israel and Turkey?
Answer: To tell the truth, the decision of Anti-defamation League, known as pro-Israeli lobby group, shocked and distressed us. For many years we have had very kind and trustful relations with large Jewish lobby organizations. I think the decision was taken under pressures of the Armenian lobby in the United States. Obviously, we could not accept that decision. Every time when we met with our Israeli friends we stressed that they should influence pro-Israeli lobby organizations in the United States. From this aspect, the position of the Israeli political establishment satisfied us adequately. Thus, Israeli President Shimon Peres commenting on the so called 'Armenian genocide' said that the matter should be researched by historians and the politicians are to define the horizons of future. Proceeding from Israel's such clear position, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan offered Armenian authorities to establish a joint commission on historical researchers to study the issue. From this standpoint, we appreciate Israeli authorities' clear and rational approach to the problem. We merely ask our Israeli friends to make it clear for their American compatriots that history must not be written on the basis of momentary political bias. Besides, we also try to inform our friends in pro-Israeli lobby organizations about our position. We do that both through our diplomatic representations and efforts of the Turkish Diaspora in the United States. In this respect we want Israel to help and support us.
Question: How do You assess the current level of the strategic co-operation between Turkey and Israel?
Answer: Currently it is fact that serious and comprehensive strategic co-operation is in existence between Turkey and Israel. This partnership covers all spheres of our co-operation. The two countries politically co-operate at a very high capacity and carry out permanent political-military co-operation. In addition, there are deep human relations. It is testified by the fact that each year Turkey receives 500.000 Israeli tourists. We are very glad for this fact. There are good cultural relations between Israel and Turkey. Presently we are establishing a Turkish Culture Center in the building which formerly belonged to Ottoman Imperia. The Mayor of Tel-Aviv and Foreign Ministry of Israel make a significant contribution to us in this issue. There are high level economic relations between Turkey and Israel, but I think that the potential between the two countries have not been fully used. Currently the trade turnover between Turkey and Israel amounts to $2.5bln and I believe that this figure will increase up to $5bln over the next five years. Turkey's Trade Minister visited Israel at the beginning of 2007, with accompany of more than hundred Turkish business people. This visit further assisted in strengthening the business and economic relations between the two countries and it its turn, it help enhance and expand strategic partnership.
Question: In connection with the Turkish foreign Minister's visit to Near East countries, some media reports wrote about 'Turkey's new Near East peace initiative'...
Answer: Turkey has an only objective to achieve peace, stability and security in the Near East. We support any peace initiatives. Turkey regards the resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine as key in the resolution of many near east problems. From this aspect, we support any diplomatic efforts directed at the resolution of the problem.Thus, at the end of October it is planned to hold a peace conference in Anapolis, the US, under the chairmanship of the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. However, the issues to be discussed and a list of countries to be invited to the meeting are yet to be defined. We are prepared to participate and make an important diplomatic contribution in this meeting. At the same time we are for the peaceable resolution of many issues which Near East faces. It is also a problem of North Iraq, where the Kurdish terrorists reign, problem of Iran and Syria, resolution in Afghanistan.