Massacre and Trade are separate

21 Apr 2024
Massacre and Trade are separate

The Turkish government and AKP’s response to public calls for cutting trade with Israel has stirred significant interest. Nihat Zeybekci, AKP Vice Chairman and Head of Economic Affairs delivered a notable response by drawing a line between the atrocities and commercial ties, stating, “Massacre is one thing, trade is another.”

Zeybekci’s remarks highlighted the complexity of the situation: “We condemn the massacre. But some of our colleagues trade with Israel. We have a trade agreement with Israel. We sell 6 and buy 1.” He emphasized the distinction between political condemnation and economic necessity, pointing out, “We sell them six [items] and buy one from them. This trade is useful, but we are working to be more sensitive about it.”

In contrast to the Finance Minister’s statement on implementing trade restrictions due to public outcry, Zeybekci maintained that his colleagues are continuing trade activities.

Despite widespread demands across various sectors for an immediate halt to this trade, which many believe contributes to the suffering of Gaza civilians, Erdogan’s son Burak Erdogan and individuals with close government ties persist in such transactions. This ongoing trade has drawn criticism despite Turkey’s official stance against Israel’s actions in Gaza, showing that economic interests sometimes outweigh political rhetoric.

Zeybekci’s remarks have come under intense scrutiny at a time when Turkey’s trade relations with Israel are facing heightened scrutiny. His comments sparked anger among Turks, who took to social media to express their discontent.

In response to the backlash, Zeybekci defended his position, stating, “I stand by every word I said. Our trade agreement with Israel, which was not suspended even during the Mavi Marmara incident, allows our Palestinian brothers and sisters to buy Turkish goods, which improves our trade balance.”

The revelation of trade between Turkey and Israel, including transactions involving individuals close to President Erdoğan despite his anti-Israel rhetoric, was first brought to light by investigative journalist Metin Cihan in late November. Cihan continues to report on this commerce using official statistics and maritime traffic websites, all of which are publicly accessible.

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