Israeli ambassador arrives in Ankara after 6 years

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Eitan Naeh

Eitan Naeh, Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey, arrived in Ankara on Thursday after six years of strained relations between the two countries.

“I have a lot to do,” said Naeh in his first statement to the media at Ankara Esenboğa Airport, CNN Türk reported.

“We have a history of helping each other when needed,” added Naeh on relations between Turkey and Israel.

Before his appointment to Ankara Naeh served as ambassador to Azerbaijan, a policy advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office and deputy chief of mission to Britain. He was Israel’s general consul in Ankara between 1993 and 1997.

The appointment of the new ambassador came after Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz’s visit Turkey on Oct. 13. It was the first ministerial visit to Turkey since the eruption of a 2010 crisis in ties.

Turkey appointed Kemal Ökem, a foreign policy adviser to the prime minister, as ambassador to Israel, cementing the normalization of diplomatic relations after a partial, six-year rupture.

The ties between Turkey and Israel had been tense since 2010, when the Israeli navy killed nine Turkish and one Turkish-American pro-Palestinian activists who were part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla heading to Gaza to deliver aid.

Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of those killed and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade.

Turkey and Israel normalized relations in August after the Turkish Parliament approved a deal in June for Israel to pay $20 million in compensation to victims on board the Mavi Marmara.

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