Turkey's Erdogan thanks Spain for Gaza stance

Turkey's Erdogan thanks Spain for Gaza stance
Spain and Turkey called on the international community Thursday to stop “looking the other way” and press for the end of Israel's attack on Gaza.
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (R) hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Madrid, Spain on June 13, 2024. (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday hailed Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez for his stance on the Gaza war which has seen the Spanish leader emerging as an outspoken critic of Israel.

Since the war in Gaza began eight months ago, Spain has emerged as one of Israel's strongest critics within the European Union, while Erdogan has strongly supported the Palestinians.

"Mr Sanchez has pursued a principled and consistent policy from day one (of the war) and has a special place in the hearts of the entire Turkish nation," Erdogan said, hailing the Spanish leader for his approach to the ongoing conflict.

"In the name of my people, I congratulate" Sanchez for his attitude, he said on an official visit to Madrid two weeks after Spain formally recognised Palestinian statehood alongside Ireland and Norway.

Erdogan once again accused Israel of committing "genocide" in the tiny territory.

"We are faced with an (Israeli) arrogance that responds even to ceasefire calls with bloodshed," he said.

Erdogan said the Gaza war played "a central role" in his talks with Sanchez, hailing Spain's decision to recognise Palestinian statehood as "very important".

"I hope Spain's attitude will set an example for other countries that have not yet recognised Palestine," he said.

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Sanchez told him Spain was committed "to encouraging other European and Western countries to recognise Palestinian statehood" saying that "for too long, the international community has looked the other way".

"It is the only solution that can guarantee peace and security in the Middle East, particularly between Palestine and Israel," he added.

'US must pressure Israel' 

Asked about a ceasefire, Erdogan said it was crucial for Washington to "put the necessary pressure on Israel" while lamenting its lack of action so far.

"Unfortunately the fate of the world is currently in the hands of five countries. When one says no, says no, everything stops," he said, referring to the UN Security Council's permanent members and Washington's veto of any resolution seen as anti-Israel.

"America's stance seriously saddens us."

His remarks came just hours after Turkey confirmed finally signing off on a long-delayed contract with Washington to buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets after months of delays.

Hamas' unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, according to Israeli figures.

Israel's military offensive in Gaza has left at least 37,232 people dead, mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the territory.

On May 28, Spain formally recognised Palestinian statehood and last week pledged to join South Africa's case at the International Court of Justice, the UN's top court, in which Pretoria has accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.

Travelling with Erdogan were six ministers and some 200 businessmen, with the two countries signing 13 bilateral agreements to increase cooperation, notably in economic and scientific matters, while pledging to hike bilateral trade to 25 billion euros, up from the current level of 20 billion.

Spain is "Turkey's best ally in Europe", Sanchez said, describing Ankara as "a key economic partner for Spain as well as a key player in the geostrategic context".