Jerusalem, July 7, 2008 … In a series of meetings in Ankara, top Turkish government officials and leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) discussed a variety of issues, including Turkey's efforts to facilitate peace talks between Israel and Syria, the close relationship between Turkey and Israel, and strengthening relations between the United States and Turkey in an effort to combat terrorism and extremism in the region.
In Turkey, Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director met with President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, main opposition Republican People's Party leader Deniz Baykal and Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Ergin Saygun.
They also met with the foreign minister, minister of justice, interior minister and education minister, as well as members of parliament and the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to Ankara.
Currently in Israel with delegation of senior ADL leaders, Mr. Lewy and Mr. Foxman said: "We applaud Turkey for its efforts to facilitate peace talks between Israel and Syria and for maintaining a close relationship with Israel across the board.
"We appreciate Turkey's role in communicating to Iran the seriousness with which the West views its future possible nuclear capability. In our meetings, we also expressed appreciation of the embrace and support of the Jewish community and the frequent public condemnation of anti-Semitism by President Gul, both in Turkey and abroad. We also discussed the close U.S.-Turkey relationship, especially in the effort to combat terrorism and extremism in the region."
Regarding the Armenian issue, ADL urged Turkish officials to resolve the matter in a proactive way between the government of Armenia and the government of Turkey and to deal with alleviating the needs of today's Armenians as part of an effort to resolve the historic affair.
"My advice is that Turkey be creative and proactive in strengthening the relationship with Armenia as a way to deal with the issue," said Mr. Foxman. "That will bring about a coming together of history. I suggested finding ways to work together that will help change the atmosphere, because we have a concern today for the well-being of Armenia. Armenia and Turkey need to solve this, not in a political forum such as Congress or parliaments."
In Istanbul, the delegation met with Turkey's chief rabbi, Jewish community leaders, and the mayor before departing for Israel.