Erdogan Warns Israel Turkish Navy Will Defend New Gaza FlotillaWorld | September 8, 2011, Thursday // 20:10| views
Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan waves during a military parade in Nicosia, Cyprus, 20 July 2011. EPA/BGNES
Turkish warships will escort any Turkish aid vessels to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday in what seemed as a warning to Israel.
In remarks made for Al Jazeera, Erdogan also said that Turkey had taken steps to stop Israel from "unilaterally exploiting natural resources from the eastern Mediterranean".
Erdogan's statements come just as Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and heated up rhetoric against the Jewish State in the aftermath of the publication of the UN Palmer Commission report on the 2010 Gaza Flotilla incident, and Israel's refusal to answer Turkish demands to apologize for the incident.
"The cost could be USD 15 or USD 150 M. We, as Turkey, would not be bothered by this. What is important for us is that we don't let anyone trample on our pride," Erdogan told reporters Wednesday when asked about the cost of Turkey's economic sanctions against Israel.
Also on Thursday, the Turkish PM accused Israel of not providing maintenance for Heron unmanned aerial vehicles that Israel Aerospace Industries supplied to Turkey last year. In 2005, IAI and Elbit Systems won a 3m. contract to supply 10 Heron UAVs and associated systems to the Turkish Air Force. Deliveries were completed last year.
"Israel is not being loyal to bilateral agreements in the defense industry," Turkish Today's Zaman's website quoted Erdogan as saying. "There could be difficulties, problems with another country, such things may happen, but there is an international code of ethics that needs to be upheld in business agreements."
Turkey and Egypt will hold a joint naval exercise at the end of the year, according to an unconfirmed report in Egyptian news Web site 'Masrawy' Thursday, as cited by The Jerusalem Post. An unnamed Egyptian official told the web site the drill would help in the exchange of knowledge and combat techniques between the countries.
Erdogan will make an official visit to Cairo next week and meet with high-ranking Egyptian officials in a bid to strengthen strategic and business relations between the two countries.
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