Kerry’s public rebuke of Turkish PM backfires as two meet face to face
March 1, 2013 by Ben Bullard
After John Kerry used the press as a diplomatic middleman, publicly chiding Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a Feb. 27 U.N. speech allegedly portraying Zionism as a “crime against humanity,” he arrived in Turkey Friday for an already-scheduled face-to-face with the man himself.
It didn’t go well, according to this report in the Washington Post.
Kerry arrived in Turkey, but tarried a little long with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu before sitting down with a perturbed Erdogan. Primed with news reports that Kerry wasn’t pleased with his remarks fanning anti-Israeli sentiment, the Prime Minister greeted him by snipping, “You [and Davutoglu] must have spoken about everything, so there is nothing left for us to talk about.”
The report states Kerry wasn’t able to joke his way through Erdogan’s stony reception as the talks continued.
In context, Erdogan’s earlier comments lack the stridency American media outlets had singled out for emphasis. He hadn’t simply lambasted Zionism, as reports like this one imply.
Taken altogether, what Erdogan actually had said comes across a little differently.
Relations between Muslim Turkey and Israel have been in decline, and Erdogan used his U.N. speech to point out that “Islamophobia” and Zionism are essentially two sides of the same coin.
The BBC provided a detached western perspective Friday on how the U.S. is wooing Turkey, a NATO ally, into a bridge-building role to resolve the ongoing civil crisis in neighboring Syria. Al Jazeera also offered this report.