Schallenberg in Ankara

Israel: Turkey accuses Austria of double standards

14.05.2024 16:18

Turkey wants to use its contacts with the terrorist organization Hamas to secure the release of the Austrian-Israeli hostage Tal Shoham. In the run-up to the meeting, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) had said that Turkey was currently "one of the few actors with reliable channels to Hamas" - but differences also became apparent in Ankara.

"We are leaving no stone unturned to return Tal Shoham to his family," emphasized Schallenberg. "Every attempt" could help. "I am already grateful to our Turkish friends for everything they are trying to do." Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently received the head of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Ismail Haniyeh, in Ankara.

Emphasized cordiality and major differences
Schallenberg and Fidan appeared emphatically cordial at the press conference, but reaffirmed their completely different views of the Middle East conflict. For example, Fidan described Hamas as an armed resistance group, while he accused Israel of "attempted genocide" in the Gaza Strip. The country must be further isolated internationally - for example by joining the South African genocide lawsuit at the International Criminal Court (ICC) or recognizing Palestine.

"The international community must join hands to stop this madness. Otherwise (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu will burn down the entire region together with himself," emphasized the confidant of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Schallenberg rejected his colleague's demands and called on him "not to add fuel to the fire". The world was on the brink of the abyss, he said, and "any rash step could open the gates to hell". He identified Hamas as the culprit behind the situation. "We would not be here if Hamas had not slaughtered people in an unbelievable medieval pogrom on 7 October," he emphasized.

Schallenberg denies double standards
Fidan countered that the Israeli reaction to this day had been going on for seven months. While Turkey understands the historically justified stance of Germany and Austria, the actions of people who are oppressors today cannot be condoned just because they were oppressed in the past, he said. "Just as it was wrong for Jews to be sent to concentration camps, it is a mistake for mothers and children to be killed in Gaza," emphasized Fidan.

Schallenberg denied that Austria was applying double standards to Israel. The Austrian position is "very clear". International humanitarian law must be observed by all states, including Israel. "Israel must do much more to protect civilians", the Foreign Minister reiterated, calling for a "credible, implementable plan" for dealing with the 1.4 million internally displaced persons from the north of the Gaza Strip before an offensive is launched on the border town of Rafah.

Schallenberg wants a "tailor-made partnership"
While Fidan reaffirmed his country's desire to join the EU and insisted on compliance with agreements ("Pacta sunt servanda"), Schallenberg called for a "tailor-made partnership" with Turkey. "People know our position on full accession, where we have our doubts," Schallenberg said in a more diplomatic tone in the face of his counterpart than after his arrival on Monday, when he had described Turkey's accession to the EU as an "illusion".

Schallenberg's visit was dominated by security issues. On Monday afternoon, he had agreed with Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya on closer police cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Specifically, a "red telephone" is to be set up for the unbureaucratic and rapid exchange of information between the heads of the police authorities.

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