Middle East

Erdogan says comments on Zionism 'misunderstood'

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the media before his flight to Denmark for an official visit at Esenboga Airport in Ankara March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

COPENHAGEN: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks published Wednesday that his controversial comments branding Zionism a crime against humanity had been misunderstood.

Erdogan, who has often attacked Israeli policies, triggered a storm of protest about his comments on Zionism at a UN forum in Vienna last month.

"I understand that my statement in Vienna led to some debate. But no one should misunderstand what I said," Erdogan said in an interview with Danish newspaper Politiken ahead of a visit to Copenhagen.

"Everyone should know that my criticisms on certain issues, especially Gaza and the settlements, are directed at Israeli policies," he said.

"It's entirely natural for us to continue to criticise Israel, as long as it will not give up its approach of denying the right to exist of the Palestinian state.

"In several statements I openly condemned anti-Semitism, and it clearly displays my position on this issue. In this context, I stand behind my remarks in Vienna."

Erdogan faced stinging criticism from Israel, the United States and the United Nations after telling the Vienna forum: "As is the case for Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it is inevitable that Islamophobia be considered a crime against humanity."

The Turkish prime minister has often attacked Israeli policies in blistering language over the past few years, sending relations between the once close allies into free-fall.





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