BAKU (AFP)–Israel’s hard-liner foreign minister on Tuesday slammed Turkey for what he called its recent “anti-Israeli” stance but said his country would continue efforts to rebuild ties with long-time ally Ankara.
Speaking to Azerbaijan’s Lider television during a visit to Baku, Avigdor Lieberman lashed out at Ankara’s frequent criticisms of Israel. “Every week to sharply condemn Israel, to say Israeli military forces have carried out genocide, to call operations to protect our citizens ‘a crime against humanity.’ … This sharp anti-Israeli line cannot be repeated every week,” he said in remarks translated into Azerbaijani.
“For 10 years we have supported very close and friendly relations with Turkey. The recent changes in Turkey’s foreign policy concepts were unexpected to us and not entirely clear. We are doing everything we can in order to preserve relations at their previous, very trustful level and to maintain close cooperation in all areas,” he added.
“We hope that Turkey from its side will make certain amendments to its foreign policy concept.”
Turkey has been a close military ally of Israel since 1996 but relations between the two countries have been tense in the wake of Israel’s war in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, which Turkey vehemently criticized.
Lieberman on Tuesday began a three-day visit to ex-Soviet Azerbaijan, a close ally of Turkey, where he was set to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and other top officials.
Israel has been seeking to build closer economic and political ties with mainly Muslim Azerbaijan and the two countries last year signed a series of cooperation agreements during a landmark visit by Israeli President Shimon Peres to the country.