January 30, 2009
In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict
Turkish PM storms out of Davos’ Gaza session, slams moderator
01.31.2009 | Hurriyet
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of a heated debate on the Gaza war with Israel’s President Shimon Peres at the Davos forum on Thursday. (UPDATED)
Erdogan said at a press conference after the incident that his reaction targeted the moderator who, he said, did not give him the floor to speak.
“My reaction here was towards the moderator. Such moderation will cast a shadow over peace efforts,” Erdogan told reporters, adding the moderator gave each speaker around 12-15 minutes to speak but he allowed Peres to talk for 25 minutes.
Turkey harshly criticized Israel over its Gaza operation which left more than 1,300 people dead. The relations between Turkey and Israel, two countries who have close diplomatic and military ties, have been strained, experts say.
“I did not target at all in any way the Israeli people, President Peres or the Jewish people. On the contrary, during the panels I attended both at lunch and tonight, I specifically stressed that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity,” Erdogan added in the press conference.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon and the General Secretary of Arap League Amr Moussa had joined Erdogan and Peres in the session which was moderated by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
“DON’T THINK I WILL COME BACK”
“I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak,” Erdogan shouted before marching off the stage in front of the attendance and the audience.
During the joint press conference with the chairman of World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, Erdogan said he will discuss the issue with Schwab when asked whether he will attend the future WEF meetings.
Although Peres has raised his voice during the session and targeted directly the Turkish Prime Minister, he did not raise his voice because of his respect, Erdogan said.
Erdogan criticized the audience for applauding Peres’s emotional defense of Israel’s war in Gaza, before the moderator, insisted that the debate had gone overtime.
Erdogan said Israel had carried out “barbarian” actions in Gaza. “I find it very sad that people applaud what you have said because you know how to kill people,” shouted Erdogan before he left. There was more applause when he left the stage.
Peres, a veteran Israeli statesman who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his efforts to reconcile with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, had told the audience that Israel had been forced into the offensive against Hamas by thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel.
“The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it is Hamas,” said Peres. “They created a dictatorship. A very dangerous one.”
Ban, Erdogan, Moussa and Peres had all been sitting alongside each other for the debate.
All gave long impassioned statements on the conflict which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and widespread destruction in Gaza.
The U.N. secretary general had called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, again condemned the Israeli bombing of a U.N. base in the territory, and called for Hamas to end its violence for renewed Arab efforts to bring together divided Palestinian groups.
Moussa, who also strongly attacked Israel, said after the debate that Erdogan should have been given more time as “people are very emotional” when discussing the Middle East.