New Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said he wants to have no permanent tensions with the country’s neighbors after serious ruptures with Israel, Egypt, Russia and Syria in recent years, in comments published Friday.
Yildirim, a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in May took over the premiership from Ahmet Davutoglu who had spearheaded a policy of aggressively projecting Turkish power in the region – a foreign policy which largely backfired, alienating scores of former allies and drawing significant concern in Europe.
Some analysts have suggested that Davutoglu made way for Yildirim to allow a more reconciliatory foreign policy that would allow Turkey to mend bridges with its enemies and return to its former dictum of “zero problems” with neighbors.
“Israel, Syria, Russia, Egypt… we cannot have permanent enmity with these countries which border the Black and Mediterranean Seas,” Yildirim said in his first major interview with Turkish reporters, quoted by the Hurriyet daily.
Relations with Russia tumbled to post Cold War lows when Turkey on November 24 shot down a Russian war plane over the Syrian border.
Moscow then blocked the sale of tours to Turkey, wrecking tourism in the south if the country where the industry was hugely dependent on Russian tourists.
“We need to look at the big picture,” said Yildirim. “There is no hostility between our peoples. It’s possible to go back to the old days and take our relations even further.”