Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday received Israel President Isaac Herzog at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, as the two countries trying to mend ties that have deteriorated since 2008.
Herzog becomes the first Israeli leader to visit in 14 years with Turkey-Israel intends to turn a new page in their distressed relations.
Herzog, who was escorted by a Turkish mounted color guard, was greeted by Erdogan at the Palace, where the two then entered a private room for talks.
Herzog will also visit Istanbul to meet with Turkey’s Jewish community there.
Before departure, Herzog told reporters at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport that relations between Israel and Turkey have its ups and downs. “We shall try to restart our relations and build them in a measured and cautious manner, and with mutual respect between our states,” Herzog added.
Herzog said that his visit was coordinated with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, hoping it will be fruitful and productive.
“I hope that in the wake of my visit, a serious process will begin with Turkey, an in-depth dialogue at various levels, and that ultimately we will see, so I hope, progress in our relations and positive results,” Herzog added.
Meanwhile, a group of 150 people, mostly from Turkish Islamic relief groups, protested Herzog’s visit, calling him a “killer”. The demonstrators also changed anti-Israeli slogans.
Turkey and Israel were once close allies, but relations deteriorated as the two countries pursue different policies toward Palestinian issues.
Turkey is not happy on Israel’s behavior with Palestinian people, while Israel is distressing over Turkey’s embrace of Hamas, where Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group.
In 2010, both the countries withdrew their ambassadors after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for the Palestinians. The incident left nine Turkish activists dead.
In 2018, Turkey expressed its anger after the US moved its embassy in Jerusalem, and recalled its ambassador from Israel which Israel adopted similar action. The two countries have not reappointed ambassadors since then.
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