A senior executive with the World Economic Forum has said he hopes to see Turkey represented at the highest level at the forum's annual meetings in Davos, in an apparent appeal to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who stormed off a stage at a WEF panel in 2009 after a heated debate with Israel's president.
“Continuation of our relations with Turkey is of utmost importance for us. It would be nice to see Turkey represented at the highest level again,” Stephen Kinnock, WEF director and head Europe and Central Asia, was quoted as saying by Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency on Monday. Kinnock is now in İstanbul to attend the World Economic Forum on Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan has not attended a Davos meeting since after he walked out in 2009. During a session on Gaza, in which Erdoğan, Israeli President Shimon Peres, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa were panelists, Erdoğan stalked off the stage when a moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, cut off his remarks in response to an impassioned monologue by President Peres, who strongly defended Israel's offensive against Gaza.
When Ignatius tried to cut short Erdoğan's remarks, saying it was past time to adjourn for lunch, the Turkish prime minister answered in frustration: “One minute... one minute… one minute… Don't interrupt me. You are not allowing me to speak.” Erdoğan then harshly criticized Peres about Israel's past and present policies in Gaza and walked off the stage when he was interrupted again, saying, “Davos is over for me from now on.”