Dismissing reports that Israel used an airbase in Turkey to carry out airstrikes on Syrian Mediterranean port city of Latakia, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that such claims have been circulated on purpose in order to defame Turkey because of its active Middle East policy.

In a televised interview on Monday, Davutoğlu said that that reports suggesting that Israel used a Turkish base to target Syria are “absolutely wrong” and the goal of similar news reports is to defame Turkey. “These claims are absolutely untrue. The news outlets putting forward such reports have an aim of defaming Turkey; they also made similar reports [with the same aim] during the Gezi events,” stated Davutoğlu. He also added that Turkish national media outlets that spread those reports are committing an “act of betrayal.”

The English-language Russia Today TV channel reported on Sunday that Israel used a Turkish military base to launch airstrikes against Syria from the sea, citing “a reliable source.”

“Our source is telling us that Israeli planes left a military base inside Turkey and approached Latakia from the sea to make sure that they stayed out of Syrian airspace so that they cannot become a legitimate target for the Syrian air force,” RT said.

The airstrike in Latakia reportedly targeted Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles, one of the types of advanced weapons that Israeli officials have previously said they would not allow to reach Syria. It would be the fourth known Israeli airstrike against Syria this year.

No plan to bring together Egyptian coup opponents in Turkey

Davutoğlu said that bringing together the opponents of the military coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s leadership on July 3 in Turkey is not on Turkey’s agenda at all.

In response to a question on whether Turkey, known for its anti-coup stance in Egypt, could be a “haven” for the Egyptian opposition [those against the coup], Davutoğlu said that this would not be a realistic scenario because the Egyptian people have the chance to form an opposition in their own country.

Turkey has been an important headquarters for the Syrian political opposition in exile since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, along with other countries such as Qatar.

“Egypt is so different from Syria; there is a chance to form an opposition in Egypt. If the Syrian opposition had a chance to form an opposition inside [Syria], then there would be no need for the opposition to gather in Doha or in Turkey,” the minister also added.

Davutoğlu also stated that “Morsi is still the only legitimate president in Egypt” for the Turkish government, reiterating the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) loud criticism of the Egyptian military intervention in politics.

“During the term of Morsi, no demonstration of the opposition was prevented, no police force was used and no anti-government media organ was closed down. But the first thing the new coup government did after assuming the power was to do that [applying pressure on the opposition],” Davutoğlu stated.

‘Internal, external circles want to sabotage settlement process’

Saying that the ongoing terrorism settlement process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is the most important internal peace move of Turkey in the last three decade, Davutoğlu said that some circles inside Turkey who have had “economic and political benefit” from terrorism are not refraining from continuing to sabotage the process.

“It is also a fact that there are foreign circles and groups that desire that there remains a ‘Great Wall’ between Turkey and the Middle East. These circles, no need to name them, are also the ones who are trying to prevent the success of the settlement process,” he said.

“The ones who are waiting for Turkey to stumble [in its Middle East policy] are also those who stand against the settlement process,” Davutoğlu added.

During the interview, Davutoğlu also defended a recent change in the law regulating the status of non-career diplomats, which would allow them to work in the Foreign Ministry and to have the same rights and privileges as career diplomats when they return to Turkey.

Davutoğlu claimed that the Turkish Foreign Ministry had a limited vision until the 90s, saying that in some countries Turkey needs to have ambassadors with different skills. “They don’t necessarily have to be career diplomats. In Somalia, we currently have an activist who has toured all over Africa. In the Vatican, we currently have Kenan Gürsoy, an academic in philosophy. And no one should question their capabilities. Foreign Ministry appointments should be merit-based,” he stated.

 source: todayszaman