Itongadol.- Turkey is declining to attend an upcoming security conference in Munich due to the expected participation of Israeli officials, Ankara\’s foreign minister told the Anadolu news agency on Friday.
The Munich Security Conference is an annual event that brings together some of the world\’s top policy makers in foreign and defense policy.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was due to attend the conference, which is scheduled to begin on Friday. He told reporters in Berlin that he had withdrawn from the event after he had learned that Israeli representatives would also be present.
This year\’s meeting is expected to draw 20 heads of states as well as 60 foreign and defense ministers.
"But, we have decided not to participate in the Munich Security Conference because they have subsequently invited Israeli representatives to the Middle East session," Cavusoglu said.
Anadolu reported that Turkey would instead send a low-level representative to the conference.
Isaac Herzog, the head of the Zionist Union list, will be one of the Israelis who will address gatherers at the conference.
The event will be attended by leaders and ministers from around the world but opposition leaders and candidates for office tend not to be invited to speak. Exceptions were made only for Herzog and expected US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry will be at the event. It was unclear Thursday night whether Herzog would meet with either of them.
A State Department official said there were “no plans at this time” for Kerry to meet with Herzog in Munich.
Relations between Israel and Turkey have gone downhill since Recep Tayyip Erdogan\’s government mediation efforts in Syrian-Israeli peace talks blew up with the outbreak of Operation Cast Lead in late 2008.
Ties were strained even further after a Turkish-based Islamist organization sent a large ship intended to break the Israeli military blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israeli commandos stormed the ship and killed a number of people on board after encountering violence while attempting to commandeer the vessel.
Volker Beck, a leading Green Party MP who chairs the German-Israel parliamentary group in the parliament, sharply criticized the Turkish decision to boycott the Munich Security Conference. “That is an outrageous act. It is an affront against Israel and an affront against Germany!”
He added “the federal government must condemn the Turkish government.”
The Jerusalem Post sent a press query to the German Foreign Ministry regarding Turkey’s refusal to attend the Munich Security Conference as well as Beck’s statements.
“The anti-Israel course of the Turkish government is cause for concern. The cancellation of Turkey’s foreign ministry is not an isolated act,rather part of a set of actions. In December the Turkish prime minister welcomed and celebrated a Hamas leader at the AKP party conference,” said Beck.
Germany, the United States, and the European Union classify the Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist entity.