Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted Thursday that Israel is responsible for the release of tapes revealing secret talks between Ankara's intelligence officials and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The Turkish leader defended his country's National Intelligence Organization Chief Hakan Fidan. “We know certain circles have targeted Hakan Fidan in the past,” Erdogan told reporters, referring to Israeli accusations claiming Fidan is pro-Iranian.
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According to Turkey's Hurriyet Daily News, comments made last year by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the issue caused a rift between Jerusalem and Ankara. The Hurriyet also claimed the cooperation between Turkey's MIT and Israel's Mossad suffered a blow immediately after that.
Meanwhile, the leaked conversations between Fidan and PKK officials stunned the Turkish public, since Erdogan's government constantly denied such talks ever existed.
“We are investigating how the leakage happened. Even if Mr. Hakan makes a mistake, we would not sacrifice him for this reason. This has revealed the ill-intention of the perpetrators of this leakage. This won’t bring anything to them,” Erdogan stated.
Tapes used as 'political tool'
The Turkish leader also criticized his country's opposition parties for using the leaked tapes as political weapons.
“We are not approving the use of this recording as a political tool by the opposition,” Erdogan said. He also noted he was flustered by the remarks made by opposition leaders Kemal Kılıcdaroglu and Devlet Bahceli.
Erdogan declared that he instructed Fidan and the former MIT head Emre Taner to meet with the PKK's expelled leader Abdullah Ocalan, currently serving a life sentence in a prison on an island near Istanbul.
Despite Erdogan's criticisms, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) continued to attack him.
“The government’s negotiations with the terror organization have been documented with this recording. Mr. Prime Minister should immediately apologize to the Turkish people and then resign,” the CHP’s deputy parliamentary group leader said.
Meanwhile, Turkey-Israeli relations continue to deteriorate as Turkish Minister for European Union Affairs Egemen Bagis walked out during a conference in the Ukrainian city of Yalta on Friday shortly before President Shimon Peres’ speech, according to a Turkish news agency.
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