World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey is keen to develop peaceful and friendly ties with everyone, including Russia and Israel, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Monday.
In remarks made following a Cabinet meeting in Ankara, Yildirim said: “From Russia to Israel, Egypt to Syria, Iraq to Iran, EU countries to the U.S.A., we are determined to develop peaceful, friendly and practical ties with everyone. We will keep doing this."
He said Turkey's policy to normalize ties with countries neighboring the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea regions had produced concrete results.
“We are returning to old days with Russia and have begun process of normalization. We [also] started the normalization process with Israel thanks to a deal. We are reaping the first benefit [of normalization with Israel] in Gaza," he said.
Ankara struck a deal with the Tel Aviv-based government last week after a six-year hiatus over the latter's storming a Gaza-bound aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, in international waters in May 2010 and killing 10 Turkish activists.
The deal paved the way for Ankara to send an aid ship carrying 11,000 tons of supplies for the people living in the Gaza Strip. The ship arrived at Israel's Ashdod port Sunday.
Also last week, Turkey and Russia restored ties after falling out over the shooting down last November of a Russian warplane that had violated Turkish airspace at the Syrian border.
Yildirim said the deal had revitalized the country's tourism sector.
“Visitors from Russia have started to come to Turkey," he said.
About Turkey's EU membership, he said: “New chapters have been launched and we had a chance to discuss issues on a better basis."
Last Thursday, a new chapter on budget policy was opened as part of Turkey's EU accession process.
Chapter 33 is the second chapter opened in the last seven months, after the chapter 17 on economic and monetary policy was opened in Luxembourg on Dec. 14, 2015.
The EU launched accession talks with Turkey on Oct. 3, 2005.
On Syria, Yildirim said: “Syria's normalization is possible but everybody needs to make sacrifices. Strategic partners and the coalition partners have to heal Syria's wounds and should take more responsibilities."
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research, however, put the death toll from the six-year conflict at more than 470,000 people.