Gaza cease-fire can save region from ring of fire, says Turkish President Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan-Olaf Scholz press conference in Berlin

By Anadolu Agency

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that if Turkey and Germany jointly achieve a humanitarian cease-fire in the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza, the region can be rescued from the ring of fire.

Speaking at the joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin, Erdogan said 13,000 Palestinians — including children, women and elderly people — have been killed so far in the war and almost all of Gaza has been destroyed due to Israel’s attacks on the besieged enclave.

Hamas’ attack against Israel on Oct. 7 is portrayed as a starting point, said Erdogan.

“The period after Oct. 7 is not discussed at all. Can the weaponry and strength of the Hamas be compared to the arsenal and power of Israel?” he asked.

The support that should be given to Palestine itself is also not provided, said the Turkish leader.

“Does Israel currently have nuclear weapons? Yes, but if you ask Israel, they won’t admit it because they are very good at using lies.

“If our hands, arms and tongues remain tied, we cannot account before history. The Israeli-Palestinian war should not be judged using the psychology of indebtedness,” he said.

Reminding that places of worship, churches, and hospitals are being targeted in Gaza, Erdogan said the Torah does not allow the bombing of hospitals and the killing of children.

“It is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But as seen here, how are these children being shot? How are they being killed in hospitals?” he said. “We didn’t put ourselves through something like the Holocaust. I made my stance on anti-Semitism as a prime minister.”

Erdogan noted that German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will visit Israel soon and he will ask him to broker a cease-fire in Gaza.

He emphasized the significance of both countries’ potential contributions to a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza and highlighted the importance of taking steps in this regard.

“The hostages and captives have been in Israel’s hands for many years. We need to see this as well. It would be unjust if we did not notice this,” he said.

Turkey has not condoned attacks targeting civilians since the beginning of the conflict, said Erdogan.

“Our common priority is to achieve a ceasefire and ensure the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid,” he said.

On Turkey’s humanitarian assistance to Gaza, Erdogan stressed that his country has sent 10 plane loads of humanitarian aid to Egypt.

A two-state solution based on the 1967 borders is now inevitable, he added.

“I believe that everyone should contribute to securing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

The Palestinian death toll from an ongoing Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip has surged past 12,000, the government media office in the besieged enclave said on Friday.

“The victims include more than 5,000 children and 3,300 women, while 30,000 others have been injured,” the media office said in a statement.

Black Sea grain deal

There is no distinction between Europe and Africa for Turkey to implement the Black Sea grain deal, said Erdogan.

“Forty percent of the grain coming through the Black Sea grain deal went to Europe, 14% went to Africa and 14% came to us,” he said. “There are demands from Africa, and Russia has decided to send a significant amount of grain and wheat, but there are issues. What is the issue?”

“As far as I remember, the grain is sent to Zimbabwe, but there is no milling stage there. I told this to our foreign minister tonight, and I said we can handle it. We can grind them in mills and send them there as flour.

“Currently, Russia plans to send grain from this corridor to four or five countries, and it will take steps. We will take the second step, converting them into flour. We had already taken a triple step as Russia-Turkey-Qatar before, and we will carry out this work,” he said.

Accession of Turkey to EU

Turkey has long-held justified expectations for updating the Customs Union and visa liberalization, said Erdogan.

“We value the contributions that Germany, one of the locomotive countries of the EU, will provide in this field,” he said.

“Turkey has been kept waiting at the EU’s door for 52 years. We will discuss (with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier) visa process facilitation until visa liberalization is achieved,” he said.

‘For us, there should be no distinction between Jews, Christians and Muslims’

In response to a question from a German journalist, Erdogan said Turkey engages with Ukraine and Russia without making any distinctions and transported 33 million tons of grain through the Black Sea grain deal to Europe and Africa.

Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians, destroyed hospitals, hitting places of worship and churches, he said.

“As a Muslim, this disturbs me. Do you. as a Christian, not feel disturbed by the destruction of these churches?” Erdogan asked the journalist. “Why do you not take a stance against these actions? Take a stance against these as well. For us, there should be no distinction between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”

“If a struggle against anti-Semitism has been waged, I was the first leader to engage in that struggle globally,” he added.

On the defense industry cooperation between Turkey and Germany, Erdogan said it is in the common interest of both sides to cooperate in the field to continue unhindered.

“Whether Germany gives or does not give on the Eurofighter — is Germany the only country in the world that manufactures warplanes? We could work on it and supply them from many places,” he said.

Following talks with German leaders, Erdogan left Berlin for Turkey.