World Leaders Condemn Turkey’s Erdogan over Zionism Slur

Condemnations of Turkish PM Erdogan from White House, Secretary of State John Kerry, German FM Westwerwelle, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli PM Netanyahu, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, EU Special Envoy Andreas Reinicke, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan: (speaking at UN forum on tolerance, Vienna, Feb. 27, 2013 | VIDEO HERE): “Just as with Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it has become impossible not to see Islamophobia as a crime against humanity.” Source

UN Watch was the first in the world to expose his remarks, and to call on the UN and world leaders to condemn them. Feb. 28, 2:30 am EST:

UN Watch expressed shock over anti-Jewish remarks delivered by Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan at a UN summit for tolerance, and urged UN chief Ban Ki-moon — who was present on the stage yet stayed silent — to speak out and condemn the speech. The Geneva-based human rights group also called on Erdogan to apologize. “We remind secretary-general Ban Ki-moon that his predecessor Kofi Annan recognized that the UN’s 1975 Zionism-is-racism resolution was an expression of anti-Semitism, and he hailed its repeal,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Erdogan’s misuse of this global podium to incite hatred, and his resort to Ahmandinejad-style pronouncements appealing to the lowest common denominator in the Muslim world,” said Neuer, “will only strengthen the belief that his government is hewing to a confrontational stance, and fundamentally unwilling to end its four-year-old feud with Israel.” Source

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: (Feb. 28, 2013)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply condemns Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement about Zionism and its comparison to fascism. “This is a dark and mendacious statement the likes of which we thought had passed from the world,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said. Source

White House: (Feb. 28)

“We reject Prime Minister Erdogan’s characterization of Zionism as a crime against humanity, which is offensive and wrong,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. “We encourage people of all faiths, cultures, and ideas to denounce hateful actions and to overcome the differences of our times,” he said. Source

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who was silent at the event but spoke a day after UN Watch’s appeal, March 1st:

The Spokesperson for the Secretary-General has the following to say with respect to the comments that have been attributed to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey during a session of the Fifth Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations:

Since its inception the Alliance of Civilizations has strived to promote mutual tolerance and respect and to speak out against extremism and bigotry of any sort, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey is one of the co-sponsors of the Alliance and has been a consistently strong voice in support of its goals.

The Secretary-General heard the Prime Minister’s speech through an interpreter.  If the comment about Zionism was interpreted correctly, then it was not only wrong but contradicts the very principles on which the Alliance of Civilizations is based.

The Secretary-General believes is it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership.

Religious intolerance — anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination — are all too real in too many parts of the world.  We must stand united in confronting these life-and-death threats to the community fabric.  Source

US Secretary of State John Kerry: (March 1)

Mr. Kerry indirectly chastised the Turkish leader for the statement in his opening remarks following a meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, saying that it was important for all leaders to encourage a spirit of tolerance.

But Mr. Kerry was more pointed when asked about the comments during a joint news conference with Mr. Davutoglo. “We not only disagree with it. We found it objectionable,” he said in response to a question

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/world/europe/kerry-criticizes-turkish-prime-minister-over-zionism-remark.html?hp&_r=0

Senior State Dept. Official: (March 1)

A senior State Department official, who spoke under ground rules that he not be identified by name on Mr. Kerry’s flight to Ankara, expressed the American position on the Turkish comments in less diplomatic terms than Mr. Kerry, saying that the pattern of Turkish denunciations of Israel was having a “corrosive effect” on American-Turkish relations.

“This was particularly offensive, frankly, to call Zionism a crime against humanity,” the official said, referring to Mr. Erdogan’s remarks. “It complicates our ability to do all of the things that we want to do together when we have such a profound disagreement about such an important thing.” The official said that the United States wanted to foster a thawing in relations between Turkey and Israel, but that the current ties between those two nations were “frozen.”

“We want to see a normalization, not just for the sake of the two countries but for the sake of the region and, frankly, for the symbolism,” the official added. “Not that long ago you had these two countries demonstrating that a majority Muslim country could have very positive and strong relations with the Jewish state.”

Full transcript here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/03/205507.htm

Response from Turkish FM Davutoglu: (March 1)

New York Times report:

Mr. Davutoglu, for his part, appeared unrepentant in his news conference with Mr. Kerry. The Turkish foreign minister insisted that Turkey was not hostile toward Israel and said that the downturn in relations was Israel’s fault, referring to the 2010 episode in which eight Turks and an American of Turkish descent were killed when Israeli commandos boarded the lead ship of a pro-Palestinian activist flotilla that was trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

“What did those nine individuals do so that with an army they were attacked as if they were aboard a hostile ship on open waters?” Mr. Davutoglu asked. “If Israel wants to hear positive statements from Turkey it needs to reconsider its attitude both towards us and towards the West Bank,” he said.

Spokesman for Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger: (March 1)

Alexander Schallenberg, spokesman for Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, clearly stated: “This equation is completely unacceptable.” The statement “is diametrically opposed to all that is the Alliance of Civilizations, co-founded by Turkey.” Source

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle: (March 2)

German Foreign Minister Westerwelle sharply criticized the remarks of the Turkish Prime Minister. “These remarks are hurtful and unacceptable,” Westerwelle said on Saturday. Source

EU Special Envoy Andreas Reinicke: (March 6)

The EU’s special envoy to the Middle East peace process, Andreas Reinicke, finally condemned the remarks of the Turkish Prime Minister, calling them “not helpful and unacceptable.” Source

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton: (March 11)

“On the remarks that are attributed to Prime Minister Erdogan, I don’t actually know what he said. What I would say is that the reports of what he said are unacceptable and that those remarks by anybody would be unacceptable to the European Union now and ever.”  (Source: Video of press conference, at minute 2:05)

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