After ‘Apology’ Back-And-Forth, Turkey Moves On

Everybody was saying that it wouldn’t happen.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would never apologize — and he is really not the type to do so. Reconciling with Israel and Russia? Never! Erdogan is an Islamist (is he?) facing Israel — no way. And Russia, well, Turkey and Russia are too deeply involved on opposite sides in Syria. So, no!

But on June 27 we were surprised by two bits of news: first Israel and then Russia – yes — on exactly the same day and one after another. Turkey will normalize its relations seven years after the Israeli attack on the Turkish aid vessel Mavi Marmara heading to Gaza and seven months after Turks downed a Russian Su-24 fighter on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Turkey wanted an apology from Israel and Russia wanted an apology from Turkey in the two incidents.

Everybody was predicting that no apologies would come. But both came, in one or another way, and it worked.

In Turkey, the opposition and critical media cried foul after the apologies with good questions that nobody can answer with certainty.

So, what was all that bragging and slogans about “brotherhood with the Palestinians” seven years ago? Why then did you shoot down the Russian fighter jet and proudly announce how tough you are with the Russians? To apologize after just seven months? Pros and cons started to argue: did Erdogan say “I am sorry” or “apologize”?

Turkish media report two versions, of him expressing “apology” or “regret,” depending on the outlet’s political standing. Apparently, Erdogan’s letter included both words.

Did he apologize to the killed Russian pilot’s family or to Russian President Vladimir Putin? One Tweet by Erdogan’s office, dated two or so years ago, went viral. There, typical for Erdogan, he was saying how strong now Turkey has become compared to the past: “Gone is now the old Turkey, a Turkey with a fallen head, a Turkey that others dictated its agenda, a Turkey that apologized.”

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