Monday, May 30, 2011

Turkey FM: We can't stop upcoming aid flotilla to Gaza

Democratic governments cannot stop their citizens launching another aid flotilla to Gaza, Turkey's foreign minister said on Monday, a year after the storming of an aid ship by Israeli marines.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged governments on Friday to discourage the activists from launching a second Gaza flotilla, but Ahmet Davutoglu said democratic governments had no right to stop their people from challenging an illegal blockade.

"No democratic country can think that they have full control over these NGOs (non-government organizations)," he said.

The Israeli action against last year's aid flotilla created a diplomatic storm and damaged Israel's relations with Turkey.

Davutoglu said in an interview that warnings about a second international Gaza flotilla should be directed at Israel, which needed to recognize the changing realities in the Middle East.

"Nobody should expect from Turkey and from other (UN) member states to forget that nine civilians were killed last year," Davutoglu told Reuters at his residence in the southern central city of Konya, where he is campaigning for election in a parliamentary poll due on June 12.

"Therefore we are sending a clear message to all those concerned. The same tragedy should not be repeated again."

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