July 24th, 2014
03:28 PM ET

CNN Exclusive: Turkish PM Erdogan sits down with CNN's Becky Anderson

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson (@beckycnn), Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about the situation in Gaza, calling it a “genocide by Israel.”

“Nazism, the Fascism that was applied by Hitler, if you put all these on the table just like that, you can see that what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, has surpassed what Hitler did to them,” Erdogan said. “We don't approve. We don't accept what Hitler did either, but right now, we do not accept this persecution, the massacre, the genocide by Israel. Hamas and Fatah are unified in respect of this two-state structure, and they've formed a national consensus government. Israel does not want this government to make progress, they want to break it up.”

Erdogan also accused Israel of being a “terror state,” saying the country’s operation in Gaza was “creating a wave of terror.”

HIGHLIGHTS
On Israel ‘creating a wave of terror’
“One, who finances Israel? Two, Israel is a terror state. They're creating a wave of terror with what they're doing now. Qatar is standing by the persecuted and the victims with humanitarian aid. Qatar's cooperation with Turkey has always been to be on the side of the persecuted and the victims and to support them through humanitarian aid. This is what's being done. To cast a different role to Qatar or to cast a different role to Turkey first of all shows how bad the intention of those casting the roles.”

On Egypt’s approach to Israel-Gaza conflict
“First of all, Egypt at this moment does not have a sincere approach to the Palestine issue. But if Egypt really is to have a leading role in the cease-fire and peace process, we don't have a persistent effort to have Turkey to be leading on this. We don't have a problem with the vineyard owner, we just want to eat the grapes.

Now, what do we mean by grapes here? It's to contribute to peace in the Middle East. If Palestine can't achieve peace in this peace matter here, if Israel can't achieve peace in this peace environment, the unrest in the Middle East will keep disturbing the whole world. Therefore, the agreement between Israel and Palestine has an historical importance.”

On whether he believes Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is a tyrant
“Well, he is right now a tyrant, I don't have any doubts about that.”

11a CNNi Europe Aircheck

11a CNNi Europe Aircheck

FULL TRANSCRIPT
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST OF CNNI’S CONNECT THE WORLD: All right, welcome back. We are in Turkey, where the prime minister has told me that what Israel is doing in Gaza has gone further than what Hitler did to the Jews. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the situation there is genocide and added that Israel should stick to the cease-fire of 2012 if it is truly serious about agreeing to one. He also denies allegations from Egypt that he has gotten in the way of a peace initiative.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Mr. Erdogan also addressed issues including the war in Syria, and his current presidential campaign. CNN's exclusive interview with the Turkish prime minister for CONNECT THE WORLD.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Merhaba, Mr. Erdogan, and Ramadan Kareem.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY: Merhaba.

ANDERSON: I know you're incredibly busy, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us on what is an unscheduled stop on your presidential campaign tour. I'd like to address your vision for the presidency shortly.

But first, given the increasingly depressing situation on the ground in the conflict between Israel and Gaza, I want to get your sense of the situation on the ground. So, your assessment, if you will, of the Israel-Gaza situation.

ERDOGAN (through translator): When I met Sharon in Tel Aviv, he used an expression, saying "The most enjoyable moments of my life are those when I was on top of tanks in Palestine." I can never forget this. Of course, it clearly displays the viewpoint of one human toward another.

At the moment, Israel's position in Palestine is apparent. When we meet and discuss with our American friends, whether it's Mr. Bush or Mr. Obama, they always refer to a two-state structure in the region in the form of Israel-Palestine, and we kept working on this with Palestine all the time, meaning you accept Israel, and that Israel accepts you.

And facing such a picture, it's beyond comprehension that Israel is still defended by the West, and the world is silent about it. Therefore, we cannot remain silent, and we will not be silent.

ANDERSON: You have invoked Hitler in accusing them of their actions in Gaza. You've talked about genocide. Do you stand by those comments?

ERDOGAN (through translator): I completely stand by my comments, because Nazism, the Fascism that was applied by Hitler, if you put all these on the table just like that, you can see that what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, has surpassed what Hitler did to them.

We don't approve. We don't accept what Hitler did either, but right now, we do not accept this persecution, the massacre, the genocide by Israel. Hamas and Fatah are unified in respect of this two-state structure, and they've formed a national consensus government. Israel does not want this government to make progress, they want to break it up.

And, in fact, I told this to Mr. Abbas. Mr. Abbas says, "This is the pressure that is applied on me," and he told us this very clearly and openly. Israel is disturbed of a unification here. This is what primarily lies under the problem behind these current attacks.

ANDERSON: You have been incredibly involved in trying to broker some sort of cease-fire initiative. You've hosted Palestinian leaders here. You are in contact with Hamas, alongside Qatar. What are your contacts, Hamas, telling you, and how close, if at all, are they to any discussion at this stage about cease-fire?

ERDOGAN (through translator): If Israel is really genuine about the cease-fire, they should first adhere to the 2012 cease-fire. Look, within framework of 2012, first of all, at the moment, Hamas is prepared for everything in order to achieve a cease-fire. Again, Palestine, Mr. Abbas, is prepared, too.

But Israel is not even approaching such a thing and spitting death, spitting blood. I told Mr. Ban Ki-moon at the meeting we held with him yesterday that if the Israeli side is genuine about this matter, then we could convince the Hamas side.

But they, of course, rightfully say if an unconditional cease-fire agreement is requested, this wouldn't be fair in the first place. Why unconditional? Can you bring the same proposal to Israel, an unconditional cease-fire? Can there be such a thing? Everything, the conditions would be set, the conditions would be discussed.

But in the meantime, a temporary cease-fire, for example, a week cease-fire could be made, and immediately after this cease-fire, these terms could be proposed.

ANDERSON: You have called the Egyptian president a tyrant in his efforts to broker peace. And in turn, Egypt has accused you of getting in the way of a deal. What's your response?

ERDOGAN (through translator): First of all, Egypt at this moment does not have a sincere approach to the Palestine issue. But if Egypt really is to have a leading role in the cease-fire and peace process, we don't have a persistent effort to have Turkey to be leading on this. We don't have a problem with the vineyard owner, we just want to eat the grapes.

Now, what do we mean by grapes here? It's to contribute to peace in the Middle East. If Palestine can't achieve peace in this peace matter here, if Israel can't achieve peace in this peace environment, the unrest in the Middle East will keep disturbing the whole world. Therefore, the agreement between Israel and Palestine has an historical importance.

But if the aim is for Israel to wholly occupy the lands Palestine has got at the moment, and for Israel to enter into those lands, of course, Turkey should stand against this. Of course, Egypt needs to stand against this.

Egypt does not mean just Sisi right at the moment. Egypt has a people. What counts for us is the way the people approach this, and we never fell out with the people. But I don't see Sisi as a democrat. He's not a democrat.

ANDERSON: Is he a tyrant?

ERDOGAN (through translator): Well, he is right now a tyrant, I don't have any doubts about that.

ANDERSON: The Israeli president has criticized what he called Qatar's funding of terrorism, alluding to sending money for rockets and tunnel-building. Now, it is between Qatar and Turkey that there is this effort to build some sort of initiative that will be good for both Israel and Hamas's side.

ERDOGAN (through translator): Look, let me respond to this comment of Israel with one thing in particular. One, who finances Israel? Two, Israel is a terror state. They're creating a wave of terror with what they're doing now.

Qatar is standing by the persecuted and the victims with humanitarian aid. Qatar's cooperation with Turkey has always been to be on the side of the persecuted and the victims and to support them through humanitarian aid. This is what's being done. To cast a different role to Qatar or to cast a different role to Turkey first of all shows how bad the intention of those casting the roles.

ANDERSON: Mr. Prime Minister, what keeps you awake at night?

ERDOGAN (through translator): There is, of course, this state of constant alertness for me at nighttime, firstly about whether any news of any fatalities from anywhere will come regarding the struggle against this separatist, terrorist organization within my country.

If you ask about the current situation, though, at the moment, I'm all concerned about Palestine, Palestine, Palestine. Because this massacre is seriously disturbing me and making me feel anxious, especially in the last ten days. If you say why, well, this incident erupted at the time when we thought we were entering a process of normalization with Israel.

ANDERSON: You are on the presidential campaign with an election upcoming. Have you not had enough of politics in Turkey?

ERDOGAN (through translator): Well, of course, I was born into politics. Are you fed up of journalism? Do you have such intentions?

(LAUGHTER)

ERDOGAN (through translator): So, our life has always been politics, and right now, I am at a dynamic state, to be honest. I'm at a productive state in politics. In terms of serving my country, I will continue serving my nation and my motherland until no more leaves are left in the calendar.

END


Topics: Becky Anderson • Connect the World • Egypt • Gaza • Israel • Turkey
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