Erdoğan calls Russia's Patriot reaction 'very wrong'
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described Russia's harsh reaction to NATO’s deployment of Patriot missiles near Turkey's border with Syria as “very wrong,” and said such a reaction almost amounted to intervening in Turkey's domestic affairs.
Erdoğan's remarks came late Thursday while speaking to journalists on board a plane en route from Pakistan to Turkey.
“I find Russia's statements very wrong. Its approach of trying to show Turkey's internal affairs - which it is not involved with - as a matter of its own [interest] is wrong. The issue is the placement of missiles for defense purpose,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying in remarks published Friday by daily Milliyet.
While speaking in Pakistan earlier on Thursday, Erdoğan underlined that the deployment was for defensive purposes only.
“This is a measure being taken against certain possible attacks from [the Syrian] side,” Erdoğan said.
Yet in Moscow, Russia's Foreign Ministry warned Turkey against using the Patriots for “muscle flexing.”
“The militarization of the Syrian-Turkish border is an alarming signal,” spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. “We have different advice for our Turkish colleagues -- use their influence with the Syrian opposition to accelerate the start of a political dialogue.”
A sudden Gaza visit
Erdoğan argued that the most active policy for providing a truce between Israel and Hamas was conducted by Turkey, Egypt and Qatar.
“Dates are not announced,” Erdoğan responded when asked when he would visit Gaza. Upon insistent questions on the same issue, Erdoğan said: “I may suddenly go to Gaza.”