Turkey and Israel have officially exchanged ambassadors after years of tense relations. Israel´s ambassador to Turkey Irit Lillian presented her credentials to President Erdogan on December 27th. One of Israel´s top diplomats, Lillian, had been working tirelessly as the chargé d´affaires at the embassy in Ankara to mend bilateral relations. Lillian shared her thoughts on Turkey-Israel relations for Shalom readers. A big fan of Turkish culture, traditional music and cuisine, the ambassador is learning Turkish and promised to answer a question in Turkish in our next interview.
You fill a post that has been vacant for four years. The reappointment of the ambassadors is a significant indicator of warming ties between the two countries. As you said on Twitter after you presented your letter of credentials to President Erdoğan, "We look forward to many more positive developments in the bilateral relations." You have been Israel's chargé d'affaires for almost two years. First of all, I would like to ask you, what has changed so that we witness a normalization in bilateral relations after so many years of tension?
I think that the most important change is the atmosphere—the atmosphere of goodwill from both sides. Before, we were more hesitant about the different steps we took in order to get back together again. And we cannot hide the fact that the relations were in crisis for a very long time. At least four years, if we count from the time the ambassadors were sent back. If we go back to Mavi Marmara, it was almost a decade since the relations were very tense. During this time, mistrust has been created between the two sides. But when I came here, I could already feel the change. There was a will from both sides to try and repair the relations. We did it gradually, hesitantly, but firmly. And nowadays, I think the main change is the willingness of both sides not just to walk slowly, but rather to run with mutual projects. I think this is the main development. And when you have this goodwill, and you have the prospects on the horizon for a better future, for different relations, or a different era of relations between the two countries, then everything can be achieved.
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