“We don’t need Israeli tourists in Turkey and we don’t feel their absence,” Erdogan told journalists of Maariv newspaper during a reception in Istanbul yesterday.
“Thirty-one million tourists came to Turkey last year. Israel’s tourism boycott won’t affect us,” he said.
He also insisted that only when Israel takes necessary steps for the clash, like apologizing for the commando raid that killed nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara in 2010, paying compensation to their families and removing the blockade against Gaza, bilateral relations will improve between the two countries.
“Only if Israel apologizes for IDF soldiers boarding the Marmara and killing Turkish activists, and pays compensation to the families of the dead, and removes the terrible blockade on Gaza, will I be ready to meet with the Israeli prime minister, and perhaps normalize relations between the countries,” Erdogan said.
On May 31, 2010 the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the largest ship in a flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s siege on Gaza in May 2010, leaving nine pro-Palestinian activists dead, according to AFP.
Turkey, which in the past was very friendly with Israel, has elected a government with an increasingly worsening stance toward Israel, as well as increasing support for Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists. “Palestinian men, women and children that have done nothing wrong are being killed wholesale or held in the largest prison,” Erdogan also said according to Globes.
Israeli state officials warned citizens not travel to Turkey on March 13, 2012, Hurriyet daily news reported.