ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) — Turkey excluded Israel from a planned NATO military exercise because of Ankara’s criticism of Israel’s Gaza offensive nearly a year ago, Turkey’s foreign minister told CNN Sunday in an exclusive interview.
The Turkish government decided to change the list of participating countries and exclude Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces. As a result, the NATO exercise was effectively scrapped, although a U.S. embassy representative said it was only “postponed.”
Asked why Turkey excluded Israel from the exercise, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, “We hope that the situation in Gaza will be improved, that the situation will be back to the diplomatic track. And that will create a new atmosphere in Turkish-Israeli relations as well. But in the existing situation, of course, we are criticizing this approach, Israeli approach.”
Earlier, the Turkish foreign ministry said that “a technical matter,” not politics, prompted the delay of the “Anatolian Eagle” exercise.