Turkey lifts objection to NATO cooperation with Israel

Updated 25 December 2012
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Turkey lifts objection to NATO cooperation with Israel

ANKARA: Turkey has given approval for Israel to participate in non-military NATO activities in 2013, withdrawing an earlier objection driven by an ongoing dispute between the former regional allies, a Turkish official said on Monday.
Relations between Israel and what was once its only Muslim ally crumbled after Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with activists on board.
The rift has continued despite US efforts to encourage a rapprochement between the two regional powers whose cooperation it needs to address changes sweeping the Middle East.
Turkey, a NATO member, refused to allow Israel to take part in an alliance summit last May because the Jewish state had not apologized for the 2010 killings and Ankara has objected to any increased cooperation.
While not a NATO member, Israel is part of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program, along with six other non-NATO countries, and had previously participated in summits and training exercises.
Turkey will now agree to Israel taking part in some NATO activities next year but remains opposed to joint military exercises, the official said.
Once close allies, Israel and Turkey, which both border Syria, used to share intelligence information and conduct joint military exercises.
But after a UN report into the Mavi Marmara incident released in September last year largely exonerated the Jewish state, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and froze military cooperation.
That report was meant to foster a thaw between the countries but ultimately deepened the rift when it concluded Israel had used unreasonable force but that the blockade on Gaza was legal.
Turkey has demanded a formal apology, compensation for victims and the families of the dead and for the Gaza blockade to be lifted.
Israel has voiced “regret,” short of the full apology demanded, and has offered to pay into what it called a “humanitarian fund” through which casualties and relatives could be compensated.


Turkey says it is facing ‘new refugee wave’ after 30,000 Afghans arrive

Updated 1 min 40 sec ago
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Turkey says it is facing ‘new refugee wave’ after 30,000 Afghans arrive

ANKARA: Nearly 30,000 Afghans have arrived in Turkey in the last three months, the Turkish government said Wednesday, after Amnesty International criticized the authorities “ruthless” decision to send more than 7,000 back to Afghanistan.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 29,899 Afghans had crossed into Turkey since January compared to 45,259 people in the whole of 2017, state news agency Anadolu reported.
“In recent months, we are facing a new refugee wave, especially from Afghanistan,” Soylu said, adding that 1,328 people smugglers had been caught by April.
Turkish authorities have sent back 7,100 migrants to Afghanistan since early April, rights group Amnesty said on Tuesday, as it denounced the “ruthless deportation drive.”
“Thousands more are in detention, being treated more like criminals than people fleeing conflict and persecution,” Anna Shea, Amnesty researcher on refugee and migrants rights, said in a statement.
Migrants from Afghanistan and other countries affected by conflict and poverty often use Turkey as a transit country in the hope of reaching Europe.
According to Amnesty, there are 145,000 Afghans in Turkey.
The country is also home to more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, as well as more than 300,000 Iraqi refugees, who have fled conflicts in their respective countries.
75,284 migrants have so far reached Turkey in 2018 compared with 172,745 last year, Soylu said in a speech in the southern city of Adana.
In March 2016, Turkey signed an agreement with the European Union to stop the flow of refugees to Europe after the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Over one million migrants and refugees landed on Europe’s shores in 2015, fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.