"The Economist" urges Erdogan to mend fences with Israel

"The Economist" says, "Turkey stands to gain from stable Arab-Israeli relations, which it ought ideally to be well-placed to promote."

"The Economist" urges Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom it calls an "Ottoman dreamer" to mend relations with Israel. Although the British weekly slams what it calls "intransigent" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his "foolishly stubborn" refusal to make even the smallest apology over the death of eight Turks and a Turkish-American on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010, it warns, "But if Mr Erdogan calculates that he can pander to anti-Israeli prejudice at home without paying a price abroad, he is making a mistake."

"The Economist" says, "Turkey stands to gain from stable Arab-Israeli relations, which it ought ideally to be well-placed to promote. And, like it or not, many in the West take Turkeys attitude to Israel as a yardstick of its broader intentions. If Turkey wants to preserve good relations with the West, it must find some way of mending fences with Israel as well."

"The Economist" points out, "In their awakening this year, many Arabs have looked to Turkey for inspiration. Turkey is not just a fellow Muslim country and their former imperial power. It also offers, for all its faults, a shining (and rare) example in the Islamic world of a strong democracy and a successful free-market economy. And the Turks have responded well, if sometimes belatedly. They were early to call for change in Egypt. They endorsed NATOs intervention in Libya. They are now unequivocally backing the opposition to the Assad regime in neighboring Syria."

On the whole, "The Economist" rejects criticism among some critics in the West about Turkeys active foreign policy, who blame Turkey for switching from being a firm friend of Israel, the only other established democracy in the region, into an implacable foe. The weekly says that the Erdogan's "mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) government" is right to pursue a policy of zero problems with the neighbors. "This is a big improvement on previous governments that largely ignored their own backyard. Turkey remains a bastion of NATO, with the biggest army after the US and a vital American air-force base at Incirlik. It is EU members like Cyprus, France and Germany - and not Turkey - that have done most to stall Turkish negotiations to join their club."

"The Economist" agrees with critics of Turkey over Erdogan's "mercurial and often autocratic instincts", which are "not conducive to careful diplomacy, as his belligerent recent outbursts over Greek-Cypriot and Israeli gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean have shown."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 7, 2011

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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