[DEBATE] : Turkish prime minister quits Davos in a huff
okhela at iafrica.com
Fri Jan 30 06:13:38 GMT 2009
Posted to the web on: 30 January 2009
Turkish prime minister quits Davos in a huff
DAVOS - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan last night stalked off the
stage at the World Econo-mic Forum (WEF) red-faced after a sharp exchange
with Israeli President Shimon Peres over the fighting in Gaza, calling it
"very wrong" and saying "many people have been killed".
The incident came after a lengthy debate at the forum in Davos, Switzerland,
about the recent Israeli offensive that claimed about 1300 Palestinian
lives. The packed audience, which included US President Barack Obama's close
adviser Valerie Jarrett, appeared stunned.
Erdogan tried to rebut Peres as the discussion was ending, asking the
moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, to let him speak once
"Only a minute," Ignatius replied.
Erdogan said in Turkish, "I remember two former prime ministers in your
country who said they felt very happy when they were able to enter Palestine
"I find it very sad that people applaud what you said. There have been many
people killed. And I think that it is very wrong and it is not
Ignatius said, "We can't start the debate again. We just don't have time."
Erdogan said, "Please let me finish." Ignatius responded, "We need to get
people to dinner."
The Turkish premier then said, "Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much. I don't think I will come back to Davos after this."
The confrontation saw Peres and Ergodan raise their voices - unusual at the
elite gathering of corporate and world leaders usually marked by learned
consensus seeking and polite dialogue. It showed how emotions remain frayed
over Israel's offensive against Hamas that ended less than two weeks ago.
Earlier in the day, the leader of Israel's conservative Likud Party
lambasted Iran for allegedly seeking nuclear weapons and supporting Hamas.
Iran denies it has plans to obtain nuclear weapons, but Likud leader
Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that Iran was in a race to make nuclear weapons,
and that it posed a greater danger to the world than even the current
The controversies came as the WEF turned its attention from the global
economic crisis to politics and diplomacy yesterday, with debates on the new
US administration, Iran's nuclear programme and unrest in the Middle East,
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Israeli election front-runner Netanyahu told a session that keeping nuclear
weapons out of Iran's hands was more important than the economy because the
financial meltdown was reversible and a nuclear Iran would not be.
"What is not reversible is the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a fanatic
"We have never had, since the dawn of the nuclear age, nuclear weapons in
the hands of such a fanatical regime," he said.
The elite annual gathering of 2500 business and corporate leaders also heard
a warning from the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (Opec) that it
was ready to make more production cuts if oil prices did not start rising
The cartel's secretary-general, Abdalla Salem El-Badri, expressed hope that
global oil demand would pick up "by the end of this year or the beginning of
El-Badri said Opec members will have reached the group's pledge of a drop of
4,2-million barrels a day by the end of the month. After that "if we still
have some downward problems, then Opec will not hesitate to take some
quantity out of the market".
Officials also discussed the recent fighting in Gaza, reactions to and hopes
for Obama's leadership and how to tackle terrorism.
Erdogan had said Obama, who is not in Davos, should help redefine terror and
terrorism in the Middle East and use it as the basis for a new US policy
Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchechr Mottaki, said that trying to solve the
Middle East's protracted crisis had turned Blair's hair grey.
Blair said he wanted to hear Mottaki accept a two-state solution between
Israel and the Palestinians if he was not to lose the "remaining hairs that
aren't grey". Sapa-AP, AFP
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