Updated Oct 27, 2022 - World

Israeli defense minister in Turkey to relaunch security cooperation

 Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz (L) and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar (R) hold a joint press conference

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar hold a joint press conference in Ankara on Oct. 27. Photo: Arif Akdogan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz met his Turkish counterpart on Thursday to relaunch security cooperation between the countries.

Why it matters: It's the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to Turkey in a decade.

  • The visit and the resumption of defense ties between the countries are another step in the process to normalize relations, which started more than a year ago.

What they're saying: “Moving forward, we must adopt a steady, positive approach in our relations – maintaining open dialogue. As agreed in our meetings, I have instructed my staff to begin the procedures required in order to resume working relations between the defense ministries," Gantz said in a statement after his meeting with his Turkish counterpart.

  • He added that Israel has strong relations with Greece and Cyprus and called for pursuing diplomatic solutions to disputes in the regions.
  • “In fact, we may form bridges and reduce conflicts, for the benefit of all parties involved," he said hinting at the latest tensions between Turkey and Greece.

Behind the scenes: During Gantz’s visit to Azerbaijan several weeks ago, President Ilham Aliyev and the Azerbaijani minister of defense said Israel should resume security cooperation with Turkey, Israeli officials said.

  • The Israeli officials said Turkey and Israel are Azerbaijan’s top security partners and the government in Baku wanted to see its two allies working together.
  • After the Baku visit, a senior Israeli ministry of defense official traveled to Ankara for talks and reached an agreement on renewing the dialogue between the two defense ministries, Israeli officials said.
  • This paved the way for Gantz's visit to Ankara.

Between the lines: Ahead of the trip, Gantz spoke to his Greek counterpart and briefed him on the goal of the visit, Israeli officials said.

  • Greek officials say they are very concerned by the escalating rhetoric and threats by Turkey against Greece in recent weeks. They expect Israel to send a message to Turkey about the need for de-escalation.

What to watch: Israeli defense officials said Gantz's visit and the relaunching of talks between the defense ministries are the first step and stressed the process will be gradual and slow.

  • The officials noted that military-to-military cooperation is still suspended and so are weapon sales to Turkey. “This will take time," they said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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