Turkish anger and an Israeli apology at Davos

Posted by: Diane Brady on January 30, 2009

Turkish diplomats may have fled Davos, along with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the Turkish business community has stayed behind. Erdogan, who stormed out of a forum with Israeli President Shimon Peres, was given a hero’s welcome in Turkey. Back in Davos, his countrymen are angry at how the incident was handled.

A close associate of Erdogan confirms that Peres called the Turkish leader on Thursday night to apologize for what happened during the session on Gaza.(Israeli officials confirm that they talked but have denied that Peres issued an apology.) Among other things, Erdogan had complained that moderator, David Ignatius of the Washington Post, allowed Peres to speak for 25 minutes but cut him off when he had spoken for only half that time. “It was insulting,” said one Turkish executive, adding that Erdogan had good reason to storm out. “The moderator let the other three panelists gang up on Peres, then Peres got angry, and he was given an open forum to yell at the others. I don’t think Davos should be a place where you try to start fist fights.”

Erdogan, for one, vowed never to return to Davos. And the business leaders in his country? “I’m not sure,” said one executive. But that is less due to the politics, he says, than the financial situation. “A lot of people are here because their budgets were set before things really fell apart,” he said. “Next year, the money might not be there.”

Reader Comments

JJENGLER

January 30, 2009 12:41 PM

The crux of the problem between Erdogan and Peres seems to reflect a profound perception gap between Israel and many other countries in the Middle East and Europe as to the state of Israeli security.

On the one hand, Israelis cannot understand how when (1) they withdrew entirely from Gaza as the world had long demanded and (2) they were rewarded with thousands of missiles launched from Gaza that (3) they were not entitled to take all necessary military steps to stop the fire. They believe -- rightly so -- that no other country would put up with a rain of missiles, and that Israel's response was in line (or even milder) with what any other country would do if faced with similar circumstances.

On the other side, Israel is seen as a muscular superpower, swatting at gnats with a semi-automatic weapon. Israel's very muscularity -- and the powerlessness of the Muslim world to respond -- is itself an affront to the poor and weak Muslim world. For an Israeli leader to respond with unapologetic muscularity -- as Peres did directly to Erdogan, with finger pointed -- is felt as the height of impertinence and a reminder of impotence. But Israelis being Israelis, they are unapologetic about their existence and feel that the cultural sensitivities of the Muslim world -- particularly the need to feel treated respectfully and with deference to their self-image of innate civilizational greatness -- are simply childish.

And so Erdogan storms out, and the Israelis scratch their heads.

One can only hope that Senator Mitchell is able to make this into a teaching moment for both sides.

Hamm Sailhardy

January 30, 2009 3:20 PM

Given the fact that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is prime minister of a country that clearly is in favour of genocide, it is strange that anyone would pay any attention to any moral outburst from that source. After all, Turkey not only slaughtered Armenians and Asia Minor Greeks during and after WWI, it has refused to admit it did so, despite overwhelming evidence that it did commit genocide. In fact, Turkey is likely to imprison anyone who says that the nearly century old genocide did happen.

It might also be pointed out that the original permission for Jewish immigrants into Palestine was issued by the Turkish government of that time.

Rob

January 30, 2009 4:24 PM

I guess it was a good diversion for the Turks instead of taking some heat themselves for beat up on the Kurds. But then what country doesn't have some dirty linen they don't want aired.

Yuce

January 30, 2009 6:00 PM

@Hamm Sailhardy

Many mistakes were done under Ottoman regime in WWI, but genocide was not one of them. Please have a look at: http://tallarmeniantale.com/ with a open mind.

Ibrahim

January 30, 2009 10:39 PM

Just some clarrifications:
(1) Turkey does not murder the Kurds as claimed by some on this talkback. Turkey murders PKK operatives, with the assistence of the US, EU and Israel. Why? The PKK is a terrorist organisation recognised by the UN, EU, USA, Russia etc that has murdered 40,000 Turkish civilians.
(2) Some also state that the Turks committed genocide (Armenian issue), yet they do not mention the 500,000 Ottoman muslims butchered by the Armenians prior to the events labelled as the "Armenian Genocide".
(3) No one can justify the indiscriminate bombing of a heavily populated residential area in Gaza with a 1 ton missile. Nor can anyone justify the numerous deaths of 3 year old children under the so-called disguise of self-defence! Why does no one mention that 60% of the dead in Gaza were children? Or are these 3 year old children also "enemy combatants" according to some misguided sadistic souls?

James Mason

January 30, 2009 11:47 PM

Let us hope this leads to a real change in attitude in Turkey. They should dump any idea of joining the EU. They will always be treated with suspicion and hostility by the EU. Turkey's future lies with the Middle East and Asia not with the Europeans and Americans who hate them. As for Davos, it is time for the BRICs and other emerging nations to boycott it. Why come to an event that is so clearly biased against them? The idiot who was moderating should be banned for life from any such events in the future.

J. Hynde

January 30, 2009 11:50 PM

JJENGLER
What have you been smoking ?

First of all, Israel did NOT withdraw, they just occupied from the outside rather than from the inside. Israel strangled Gaza economically including depriving them from basic necessities like food and medicine all the while expanding settlements in the West Bank. It was Israel which broke the ceasefire back in November by launching an attach INSIDE Gaza on Hamas militants.

Furthermore, even if you ignore the above, there is no way that the UK for example could have responded to the IRA bombing campaigns by bombing the hell out of Irish cities killing 1400 people. Anyone with half a brain (and looking beyond the US press) can figure this out. But then in the good ol' USA there isn't much freedom of speech when it comes to Israel, now is there ?

Diane

January 31, 2009 5:38 AM

One thing that Davos veterans tell me is that it's very out of character for leaders to use the gathering as a forum to fire up constituents at home.

Haneef

January 31, 2009 7:17 AM

Old (n bad) habits die hard.Israel cannot change its attitude overnight, Peres's inept bungling bully at Davos was just an example.Don't bark Peres, try find a kennel. He should respect other world leaders & never do this finger raising stuff to any premiere .The world has seen the devastation in Gaza & sooner or later Israelis will be kicked out of the UN ( Israel beign the champion for violating the most of security council). resolutions.

Adem KatKi

January 31, 2009 7:29 AM

Erdogan you legend!!! God gives nobody the right to go on a killing spree.

alpsinan

January 31, 2009 11:19 AM

He who is without sin will criticize Israel????
A lot of people are parroting the same thing: Turkey has also human rights problems comitted in the past and present so, cannot teach Israel a lesson on humanity.
So do US, UK, France, Russia etc... They also don't have clean hands.
Therefore this means nobody should say anything at Israel and just watch what is happening?

With the same logic, how come Germany with its dirty past, UK with what they did in India, US with the blood of American indians criticized Turkey for many years and taught Turkey many lessons?
Wrong is wrong always, when I do it or when you do it. There is no difference.

I think commentators, don't remind Turkey but threatens Turkish people that Armenian or Kurdish issue can have more serious consequences in international politics as long as Turkey continues to critice Israel. So the commentators here and anywhere else advice Turkey just sit back and watch the baby-killers.

If we consider the fact that the people who are informed about Armenian issue in Turkish history, usually don't know anything about the Armenian's "almost recent invasion" in Azarbaijan, an issue which is deliberately "un-taught" to western people, we can trace the real origin of the double standart: If somebody attacks Muslims, it's not a news, If Muslims attack somebody it's a big news.

andrew padula

January 31, 2009 4:15 PM

One thing is for sure... I am canceling my subscription to the Washington Post!

m.r.

February 1, 2009 6:52 PM

now you know why Turkey will not be admitted to E.U. this century!

Mike

February 2, 2009 3:47 AM

Common, there was no Armenian invasion in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani officials started forcing Armenians in Baku from their homes first. They had started to do the same with Armenians in Stepanakert too, only this time Armenians in Stepanakert stood for themselves. In 1970s there were several tens of thousands of Armenians living in Baku. And now - ZERO.

And please, let's try to not look at everything from a religious perspective. We should never repeat the mistake of Turkey's government of 1915 a.k.a. killing people just because they are Christian.

Chris Manning

February 2, 2009 7:19 PM

Turkey should start a Middle Eastern Union. Why bother with the EU? Much more wealth in the Middle East!

SAS

February 18, 2009 9:49 PM

As a strong supporter of Turkey, let me say that I support Mr Erdogan's handling of the Davos debate 100 %. Much of the discourse on Israel and its brutal treatment of Palestinians has been defined by a warped sense of political correctness that fails to convey just how bestially the Palestinian people have been treated by Israel over the past generation with the open and explicit support of the US and the Western powers. People across the Middle East are sick and tired of US foreign policy towards their part of the world - and given the gross injustices - from the sabotage of Iran's democracy in the 1950s courtesy of the CIA to the mass dispossession of Palestinians from their historical homeland, to the recent aggression in Iraq. Erdogan's outburst, while hardly civil, gave a voice to decades of anger at the criminal nature of US foreign policy.So it is hardly surprising he has become a folk hero in the Arab world - he has said what needed to be said.

Richard

December 23, 2009 6:16 AM

Erdogan you legend!!! God gives nobody the right to go on a killing spree.
Comment retarder ejaculation Retarder ejaculation

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