BEIRUT (Hurriyet)–Turkey’s prime minister called on Israel to apologize for its mistakes in the region in a speech he gave in Lebanon on Wednesday, adding Turkey would do its best to avert a fresh armed flare-up in Lebanon.
“We will go on to raise our voice against those massacring innocent people and children. We will call a killer a killer when needed,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the Lebanese Turkmen village Kouachra, near the capital of Beirut.
Erdogan’s remarks came at the beginning of a two-day official visit to Beirut on Wednesday.
“The people of Israel should see this now. If peace comes to that region, Israel would win as the region wins. If there is war in this region, Israel’s people will be harmed as people of the region will be harmed. That is why we call on Israel to turn back from its mistakes, apologize and accept peace,” he said.
Following the speech, Erdogan told Lebanese daily as-Safir that he promised to use Turkey’s regional clout to maintain stability in the tiny Mediterranean nation. “Should any signs of war surface in Lebanon, God forbid, Turkey and other countries in the region will do everything they can to prevent that war,” he said.
The prime minister’s two-day visit will focus on strengthening ties between Beirut and Ankara and is set to include meetings with senior Lebanese officials. A source close to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that Wednesday evening’s bilateral meeting would see the two leaders “sign an association agreement and build high-level strategic partnerships.”
Erdogan’s visit comes at a crucial time, with Lebanon on the verge of political breakdown due to disagreement over a United Nations-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
Speculation has soared that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is ready to issue indictments against Hezbollah members, following a spate of media reports linking the party to al-Hariri’s murder. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has warned of the consequences should arrest warrants against party members materialize, while the cabinet remains divided over issues such as STL funding and the possibility any investigation may be misdirected because of “false witnesses.”
“As a leader who loves Lebanon and the Lebanese, I don’t want Lebanon to go through such a thing,” Erdogan told as-Safir. “In the event it does happen, all religions, races and sects will destroy Lebanon and those paving the way for such strife will not be able to get rid of their historic accountability.”