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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.”
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