Turkish officials trying to jumpstart peace talks between Syria and Israel have sounded hopeful as they have said they were encouraged by recent statements by Syrian and Israeli decision-makers, and described Syrian President Bashar Assad's recent statements on the chance of resuming negotiations as particularly positive.
The anonymous remarks by the Turkish officials and diplomats came in an article published in Thursday edition of the Israeli daily Haaretz which was posted from the Turkish capital. Foreign Ministry officials in Ankara declined to elaborate on content of the article. "It is quite clear that Turkey has long assumed a pro-active policy toward reaching resolutions on disputes in its own region and this is not solely limited to Israel-Syria dispute," a senior Turkish diplomat said.
The Turkish diplomat speaking with Today's Zaman under customary condition of anonymity, however, showed as example landmark talks between European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, hosted in Ankara late in April as well as a major meeting between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart, Pervez Musharraf, which was also hosted in Ankara in late April.
"If this pro-active policy has been welcomed by subject countries, then we will have no hesitation for continuing intensified efforts for reaching resolutions in key controversies in the region," he added. Turkey is one of four Muslim countries that have friendly ties with Israel.
The same Turkish officials speaking with Haaretz cautioned that Israel should not view Syria as a branch of Iran because Tehran and Damascus differ on regional issues, while emphasizing that peace with Syria is easier to achieve than an agreement with the Palestinians.
Late in July, Turkey's Ambassador to Israel Namık Tan said that the Turkish government would continue to act as a courier between Jerusalem and Damascus and deliver messages between the two. "We're not intermediaries, but we are facilitators. We did our best to deliver messages to both sides [from one another], but unfortunately this did not get solid results yet," Tan was quoted as saying by the Israeli media at the time.
Earlier in July, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Turkey, European countries and US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have relayed messages to Syria. The article in the Haaretz highlighted that "the Turkish mediators are operating under the assumption that the prospect of renewed peace talks between Israel and Syria is more achievable than a permanent agreement between Jerusalem and the Palestinians."
The daily also took note of the fact that Ankara believes that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cannot offer Israel any viable solutions without securing Hamas' support first and that's why, Turkey decided to maintain its contact with Hamas -- in contrast with the Israeli and American stance.
"The United States may ultimately realize that Turkey's stance was the right one, just as it reached the conclusion of engaging in dialogue with Iran over the situation in Iraq," a Turkish official was quoted as saying by Haaretz.
Last Mod: 17 Ağustos 2007, 12:07