Yuri Bocharov: "The second Karabakh war returned Turkey and Israel to friendship"
At the end of last week it became known that Turkey is returning its ambassador to Israel for the first time in two years. According to unofficial data, 40-year-old Ufuk Ulutas, a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and chairman of the Center for Strategic Studies under the Turkish Foreign Ministry, will represent the Republic of Turkey in the State of Israel. Vestnik Kavkaza talked with Israeli political scientist, oil engineer, political consultant Yuri Bocharov about what this appointment means for Turkish-Israeli relations.
- Yuri Borisovich, in your assessment, what is the significance of this event for relations between Turkey and Israel?
- Turkey is a long-time partner of Israel on a whole range of issues. Yes, in recent years, the countries have had disagreements on many topics, we even lived to see the Cold War, in connection with which the previous Turkish ambassador was recalled. The return of the plenipotentiary representative of Turkey to Israel means that Ankara is ready to reconsider Turkish-Israeli relations, which can only be welcomed. We can renew and strengthen ties in many areas, including on issues of energy supply and gas pipelines, or through armaments, or through cooperation in Syria, where both Israel and Turkey have their own interests. In any case, the fact of the ambassador's return is evidence that Turkey is again ready to talk with Israel about cooperation.
- In your opinion, what was the basis for such a change?
- In a nutshell, the war in Nagorno-Karabakh returned Turkey and Israel to friendship.
Let me remind you how the tension in Turkish-Israeli relations began. In 2010, during the breakthrough of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, Israeli special forces stopped the steamer "Mavi Marmara", then several people died, including Turkish citizens. After this incident, Turkey broke off relations with Israel, although after lengthy negotiations, Israel has mainly resolved the issues of compensation and apologies raised by Turkey. An apology was received, but relations did not improve, and since then nothing has changed in the public field for a long time (although, as you understand, most often Israeli diplomacy is hidden from the public eye, as can be judged by the recent agreements with Arab countries).
Despite this, contacts, especially between the military and intelligence services of the two countries, continued, and changes have occurred over the past few months. It began with the signing of treaties by Israel with a number of Arab countries - Bahrain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, which made a positive contribution to improving the prospects for Turkish-Israeli contacts. Then there was the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, and although it cannot be said that Israel and Turkey worked together in relation to these hostilities, however, Ankara fully sided with Azerbaijan, and Israel, despite pressure from Armenia and the European Union, did not abandon military -technical cooperation with Azerbaijan. This has brought our positions closer on a number of issues.
- What, in your opinion, are Turkey's interests in this restoration of relations with Israel?
- Turkey does not want to remain on the sidelines of the processes that are currently taking place in the Middle East, it is, in particular, about the creation of a new belt of friendship between Israel and Muslim countries. All these countries, with which agreements were signed this year, occupy not the last place on the geopolitical map of the Middle East, but at the expense of Morocco and North Africa. This is a serious advance that will cause significant changes in the regional processes in the Middle East. Turkey certainly wants to participate in this, because the situation in Turkey and around Turkey depends on the position of many countries.