PM seeking political gains, says opposition .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ANKARA - Erdoğan defends his reaction in Davos, saying what the moderator did was an impertinence and his reaction should not be read as an anti-Semitic move.

While Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stood behind his outburst in Davos last week, opposition party leaders yesterday criticized him for using the incident as a tool for political ends.

In his address to the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, parliamentary group meeting, Erdoğan said the moderator’s attitude was wrong and criticized retired diplomats who said he had breached the basic principles of diplomacy.

"We cannot let anybody show disrespect to the prime minister of a country. The moderator cannot put his hand on the shoulder of a prime minister. This is impertinence. If I was not diplomatic, then I would have done something else. But I did not," Erdoğan said.

Turkey not anti-Semitic
"Some found our response to the moderator undiplomatic. I am not a diplomat, but a politician. Those who act like a monsieur in diplomacy continue to act that way in politics as well. If diplomats harm the national interests with their soft diplomatic tones, then I do not want a part in such diplomacy. My diplomats should be able to obtain their rights from the mouths of lions."

Stating that his reaction should not be misinterpreted, he said the Israeli government was wrong to consider Turkey’s criticism of Israel’s military offensive as anti-Semitic. "There has never been anti-Semitism in the history of this country... The people of this country have never seen the Jews as enemies. I believe we will not see such attitudes in the future," he said, adding Turkey’s reaction should be considered as that of the conscience of humanity. It was not correct to paint reactions that sought to highlight the human tragedy in Gaza, as a pro-Hamas or anti-Jewish initiative.

"Although I said many times that I consider anti-Semitism a crime against humanity, some do not want to understand my words. What we have done so far was for the sake of regional peace," he said. "Being a mediator between the two countries does not prevent us from speaking the truthÉ Turkey assumes such missions as it does not have double standards. We will continue our mission as long as the sides come up with such a request."

Speaking to his deputies in a closed session of a parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Republican People’s Party, or CHP, Leader Deniz Baykal said nobody should show disrespect toward the prime minister of Turkey, but he criticized Erdoğan’s move in Davos, stating what lay behind it was political calculations.

’Erdoğan seeks political ends’
"Why was Erdoğan involved in such a debate with Israeli President Shimon Peres? He did so as he wanted to achieve a political end. Such initiatives should not be made for political purposes as they do not benefit the country," Baykal said.

Baykal also criticized the government’s role in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, stating Turkey should not be a party to the conflict between the two countries.

"Turkey should not be a party to a debate between Jews and Muslims. Turkey cannot obtain a benefit by adopting a pro-Hamas stance. Turkey should not take sides or enter into a conflict with Israel," he said.

"And, this government has close relations with IsraelÉ The pilots who dropped bombs over children in Gaza were trained in Konya."

Baykal also said they did not just cry for the 1,500 Palestinians killed in Gaza but also for the 1 million people who died in Iraq.

Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, Leader Devlet Bahçeli also addressing his deputies in a closed session said Erdoğan wanted to use his reaction in Davos as a tool to attract more votes in local elections.

"It seems Erdoğan who played the victim and exploited the public’s feelings for gain in domestic politics now hopes for new political benefits by defending Gaza victims and challenging Israel," Bahçeli said, adding that Erdoğan’s statements were a clear indication that he used the Davos incident as a campaign tool for local elections.

Bahçeli also criticized Erdoğan for displaying an inconsistent approach with his stance taken in Davos.

Stating that Erdoğan’s move in Davos was promising, he said: "However Erdoğan displayed an inconsistent approach in Davos to what he did after Davos. He has turned away bit by bit from what he said in Davos and tried to shut the issue."

"His reaction in Davos will not be sufficient to wipe out the unprincipled and submissive understanding of policies and the numerous mistakes in foreign policy he has made in six years," he added.