Turkey

Stolen from the Guardian. Get Turkey in the EU now.

Turkey’s prime minister has called for the Palestinian flag to finally be raised at the United Nations, insisting that international recognition of the state was now an obligation, not an option.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a much-anticipated speech to the Arab League in Cairo to rally opposition to Israel, and promised that Turkey would stand in solidarity with those struggling for political change in the Arab world.

Freedom and democracy and human rights must be a united slogan for the future of our people,” Erdogan told an audience of Arab foreign ministers and millions more watching on television across the region. “The legitimate demands of the people cannot be repressed with force and in blood.”

The 57-year-old was speaking at the start of a four-day tour of revolutionary north Africa, which analysts believe is designed to strengthen Turkey’s influence within the Middle East and isolate their one-time ally Israel. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who is also inEgypt, has announced that he will be pressing ahead with Palestine’s bid for full recognition from the UN security council, despite the fact that it will almost certainly be met by a US veto. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said that the bloc has yet to reach a common position on the question of Palestinian statehood.

Erdogan is currently embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with Israel over the latter’s refusal to apologise for the killing of Turkish activists by Israeli soldiers on a Gaza-bound ship last year. In his address he accused the state of acting like a spoiled child and building a blockade around its own people, adding: “Israel will break away from solitude only when it acts as a reasonable, responsible, serious and normal state.”

He added: “We must work hand in hand with our Palestinian brothers. The Palestinian cause is the cause of human dignity. It’s time to raise the Palestinian flag at the United Nations. Let’s raise the Palestinian flag and let that flag be the symbol of peace and justice in the Middle East.” The 33-minute speech was interrupted several times by bursts of applause from the assembled Arab dignitaries.

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