Ankara/Istanbul: British Prime Minister David Cameron described Gaza as a "prison camp" during a trip to Turkey Tuesday, in unusually outspoken comments that overshadowed a speech giving strong backing to Ankara`s bid for EU membership.
"Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp," Cameron said. He also referred to Israeli flotilla raid as "completely unacceptable".
Cameron, on a visit to Turkey before heading to India, made clear his new government`s backing for Ankara`s stalled aspirations to join the European Union.
"I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy. This is something I feel very passionately about," Cameron said in a speech given the Union of Chambers of Commerce and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), a powerful business organisation.
"Together, I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels," said the prime minister.
Cameron`s speech also offered criticism of those European countries that have been less receptive of Turkey joining the EU.
"When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a Nato ally, it makes me angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way it has been," he said.
"My view is clear. I believe it`s just wrong to say Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit inside the tent."
Cameron was accompanied by his Foreign Secretary William Hague. He Monday met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In his speech, Cameron also urged Turkey and Israel to repair their relationship, which has been severely strained since Israeli commandos raided a Turkish-led Gaza aid flotilla in late May, resulting in the death of nine Turks.
Britain has traditionally been among the strongest supporters of Turkey`s EU bid. Cameron, who has been in office for some three months, is continuing this policy line, despite the objection of right-wing Conservatives at home.
Hague recently said that Turkey is among a handful of emerging global powers that Britain plans to strengthen relations with.
From Turkey, Cameron travels on to India.