19/01/2009 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday described the war on Gaza as a “tragedy” and urged the international community not to marginalize Hamas after its war with Israel.
He also criticized Israel for having showed a lack of respect in keeping Turkey, their main regional ally, in the dark over the Gaza offensive.
Erdogan, speaking on a visit to the European Union headquarters in Brussels, said Hamas had clearly won elections in Gaza in 2007 and this had to be respected.
“We should not be squeezing them into the corner,” he said.
Hamas should be left the time to show if it was capable of improving conditions in Gaza, he said.
“If they are not successful they will lose the next time,” Erdogan said in a speech at a European Policy Center conference.
“If we are to move towards democracy in that region then we should respect the decision of the people who went to the ballot box,” the Turkish premier added.
Erdogan again denounced the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and the fact that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had given them no warning of the coming offensive.
“I have to say we have been saddened by what went on. Israel did not really respect us in that process,” he said.
Erdogan said he had had six hours of talks with Olmert at the end of December, during which they had discussed indirect talks with Syria — in which Turkey had been acting as an intermediary — and other matters.
“But no mention was ever made during these discussions with Mr. Olmert about Gaza, and three or four days later he should have contacted me,” he added.
“Not only did he not contact me, but we then discovered,
December 27, that Israel had started to bomb Gaza.
“This lack of respect is something that Israel has to remedy.”
“We cannot talk about revenge and hatred,” he said. “We will continue to have talks at different levels.”