Turkey, Israel foreign ministries to meet 'in a month'
12 Jan 2017 - 11:09
ANKARA: Turkey and Israel are expected to hold foreign ministry-level meetings within the next 30 days as part of efforts to "give momentum" to bilateral relations, according to a Turkish foreign ministry official Wednesday.
"I assume that political consultations will be held on an agreed date within the next month from now," the official, who asked not to be named, told reporters in the capital city of Ankara.
The consultations would be chaired by the undersecretaries of the respective foreign ministries, the official said, adding there would also be minister level visits "upon mutual agreement".
"There are sectors such as economy, tourism and energy to which we need to give momentum through high-level visits," the official said, adding cooperation in defense and military would "definitely" be put back on the agenda, too.
Although diplomatic and military relations were halted in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara incident, the official noted that the relations between the countries continued without interruption in the fields of culture, tourism, trade and sports, with foreign trade volume doubling up to $5 billion, which he said indicated that both sides "need each other".
"We have a free trade agreement. We want to update it, increase its depth and broaden its scope. It is important for us. Because the two countries' economies complement each other."
Turkey and Israel renewed ties in June 2016 following a six-year split over the attack on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid ship in May 2010, when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists on the Gaza-bound vessel.
In the aftermath of the attack on the six civilian vessels, which had been trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza, Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed, and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade, which since 2007 has remained under a crippling Israeli embargo.
In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his regret to Turkey’s then-Prime Minister (now president) Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the attack.
In August 2016, Israel paid $20 million in compensation to the families of the Mavi Marmara victims, followed by the mutual appointment of ambassadors last November representing the culmination of the process of renewed ties.