ANKARA - After six years without official representation in Ankara, Israeli Ambassador Eitan Na'eh presented his credentials to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday.
The ceremony was held at the Turkish presidential palace, which has over a 1,000 rooms, and was widely covered by the Turkish press.
Na'eh inspected an honor guard of Turkish soldiers, following which the Israeli national anthem "HaTikvah" was played.
Erdoğan welcomed Na'eh with a smile and was impressed when the Israeli ambassador greeted him in Turkish.
The Turkish president shook hands with Na'eh, his wife and children, and the Israeli Embassy's diplomatic staff, and even patted Na'eh's 18-year-old son Itay on the back.
Israel's former ambassador to the country, Gabby Levy, was expelled from Turkey in 2011 in the wake of the Mavi Marmara raid.
In the May 2010 raid, Israeli commandos boarded a vessel trying to break the blockade on the Gaza Strip. A violent confrontation broke out on board, and the passengers on the Mavi Marmara attacked the Israeli Navy soldiers. Nine Turkish citizens were killed in the raid while a tenth person succumbed to his injuries years later. Israel and Turkey relations were severly damaged as a result.
Turkey has demanded that Israel to apologize for the raid, pay compensation to the families of the killed Turkish nationals, and remove the blockade from Gaza. Israel, meanwhile, demanded that Turkey clamp down on Hamas activity within its territory.
Several months ago, the two nations finally signed a reconciliation agreement, which included over $20 million of compensation from Israel to Turkey, addressed Turkey-Hamas ties, and blocked Turkish lawsuits against IDF officers.
Despite the diplomatic crisis, trade relations between the two nations have reached new heights. While before the raid, in 2009, trade between Israel and Turkey was at $2.6 billion by 2015 it rose to $5.8 billion.
Meanwhile, Israeli tourism to Turkey, which in its heyday reached 580,000 tourists a year, dropped dramatically. It recovered slightly last year, with 260,000 Israeli tourists visiting Turkey.