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Turkey freezes all ties with Israel

Source : Anadolu Agency | Ankara / 06 Sept 2011

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said about the UN report on Mavi Marmara raid, "Geneva decision is clear, the decision of the UN Security Council is clear. The report that has been recently revealed is worthless for us."

Eyes have been turned on defense industry, one of the most important cooperation areas between Turkey and Israel, after Turkey's recent decisions regarding this country.

Prime Minister Erdogan told reporters after attending a ceremony marking the beginning of new judicial year, "Turkey will continue imposing its sanctions with the same determination. In the light of new developments, we will take new steps. Israel has lost the chance of being a partner of Turkey in the region for its own political purposes. In the face of the decisions made by the UN about Israel, Israel has always been the spoiled child. And it supposed that it would always be like that."

"Turkey has already said on numerous occasions that last year's incident in the international waters was inhuman, brutal. It was a state terrorism. We have stood against such a country for the rights of our nine citizens who lost their lives in the raid," he said.

"We advocated that Israel should apologize and pay compensation. Also, Israel should lift embargoes on Gaza. They also made several initiatives. Actually, the report does not meet Israel's expectations. Geneva decision is clear, the decision of the UN Security Council is clear. The report recently revealed is worthless for us," he said.

Prime Minister Erdogan added, "we have already taken some steps. And we are determined to maintain them. As of tomorrow, we will downgrade our diplomatic relations to the level of second secretary. We also suspend our commercial relations, military relations and defense industry relations. Those will be followed by completely different sanctions."

"Trade balance in favor of Israel"

Israel, one of the most important defense industry partners of Turkey, has been enjoying an advantageous trade balance in this area.

Turkey has been purchasing advance technology defense industry products from Israel, whereas this country has been buying military boots and uniforms from Turkey.

Recently, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu unveiled a series of decisions concerning Turkish-Israeli relations.

The decisions included downgrading Turkish-Israeli diplomatic ties to the level of a second-secretary, suspension of military agreements, measures pertaining to freedom of navigation in the Eastern Mediterranean and demanding a review of the Israeli blockade over Gaza by the International Court of Justice.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos raided a humanitarian aid flotilla heading for Gaza, killing nine Turkish nationals one of whom was a U.S. citizen. Turkey said after the attack that it expected Israel to make a formal apology, pay a certain compensation to the families of the victims and to end its blockade over Gaza.

The United Nations established an inquiry panel to examine the incident. The UN panel's long-awaited "Palmer Report" was handed over to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on September 2.

The report said Israel's interception of the vessels was "excessive and unreasonable," while the flotilla acted "recklessly" in attempting to breach the naval blockade. It also said the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza was "legal".

According to economic figures, defense industry had become one of the most important cooperation areas between Turkey and Israel after the two countries signed a defense industry cooperation agreement on August 28, 1996.

Turkey's National Defense Ministry has been cooperating with an Israeli company to modernize Turkish F4 jets.

Moreover, Turkey's exports to Israel were around 2.082 billion USD in 2010 and 1.382 billion USD in the first seven months of 2011.

Turkey imported goods worth 1.359 billion USD from Israel in 2010, and worth 1.180 billion USD in the first seven months of 2011.

Turkey mainly exported automotive, iron-steel, isolated wires, copper wires, cobblestones, ceramic tiles, jewelry, and electrical devices. It was importing oil and oil products, tanks and armored war vehicles, chemicals, plastic goods, iron-steel scrap, organic chemicals, medical devices, and medicine.

Some of the recent striking Israeli investments in Turkey are Ofer Group's purchasing shares of Turkish Oil Refineries Corp. (Tupras), and the cancelled Galataport tender.

The biggest bank of Israel, Hapoalim Bank purchased 57.5 percent shares of BankPozitif and invested in Turkish banking industry. It paid 100 million USD to C Faktoring for BankPozitif's shares.

In June 2006, Israeli carpet company "Karmel" invested 9 million USD, and bought 51.1 percent of Turkish Atlas Hali (carpet) company.

Turkish contracting companies have undertaken 104 projects in Israel so far, worth 580 million USD. The biggest Turkish investment in Israel is the electricity power plants Zorlu Holding will construct. The holding has undertaken four electricity power plant projects in Israel so far.

Turkey and Israel signed a tourism cooperation agreement in Jerusalem on June 1, 1992 and Turkey became the second tourism destination for the Israeli tourists. Turkey received 511,435 Israeli tourists in 2007, 558,183 in 2008, 311,600 in 2009, and 109,600 in 2010.

Below are the agreements and protocols signed between Turkey and Israel:

- Free Trade Agreement
- Commercial, Economic, Industrial, Technical and Scientific Cooperation Agreement
- Agreement on Prevention of Double Taxation
- Agreement on Encouragement and Protection of Investments
- Agreement on Assistance of Customs Administrations
- Turkey-Israel Joint Economic Committee (JEC) First Term Meeting
- Turkey-Israel JEC First Term Memorandum of Understanding
- Turkey-Israel JEC Second Term Meeting
- Turkey-Israel JEC Third Term Meeting
- Agreement on Cooperation in Standardization and Metrology
- Cooperation Agreement between Turkish and Israel standards institutes.


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