Russia sets three conditions to overcome jet crisis, says envoy
Russia has set three conditions in order to overcome the crisis that erupted after Turkey downed a Russian warplane on Nov. 24 on the grounds of an airspace violation on its border with Syria, according to the country’s envoy to Turkey.
Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov said Russia awaited three steps to be taken by Turkey in order to overcome the tension between the two countries and mend ties.
Karlov set an apology from the Turkish side for the downing of the Russian jet leading to the deaths of two Russian soldiers as the first condition, while he said they expected the people responsible for this act to be found and held account. The third condition was for Turkey to pay compensation for the damage Russia has come across as a result of the incident.
“If our expectations are not met, Turkey’s other announcements will not pay off,” Karlov was quoted as saying in an interview with daily Cumhuriyet on Dec. 14.
“While Turkey announces [a position] in favor of dialogue, it also announces statements that do not fit such an approach,” added Karlov.
Speaking about the death of one of the two pilots flying the Russian Su-24 warplane that got downed by Turkish fighter jets on Nov. 24, Karlov claimed the person who shot the Russian pilot after he ejected himself from the plane and was trying to make a safe landing with a parachute was a Turkish citizen named Alparslan Çelik.
“It is Alparslan Çelik who shot at our pilot. He went before the cameras and was making a statement, and then he showed a part of the parachute. He spoke Turkish easily,” claimed Karlov, adding that Çelik’s father was a former mayor.
Daily Hürriyet reported that Çelik’s father was a former mayor of the eastern province of Elazığ’s Keban district from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
Çelik, 32, fought against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014 together with Turkmens in Iraq. From there, he traveled to Syria in early 2015 and joined the ranks of the Turkmens from the Bayırbucak region in northwestern Syria.
Çelik is still fighting against regime forces in Syria together with the Turkmens, according to Hürriyet.
Çelik said after the downing of the Russian jet that they had killed the Russian pilots, adding that they had shot them while the pilots were trying to make a safe landing with their parachutes.
The body of the dead pilot was handed over to the Russian military staff in Ankara, from where it was taken to Russia. Another pilot, who was looking for the pilots of the downed jet inside Syrian territory, was also killed.
Karlov claimed a group of members of the press, who were “perhaps coincidentally where our [Russian] jet was shot with professional equipment,” had filmed the group who shot at the Russian pilot. He said the group opened fire with long-range weapons first, then filmed it, and then distributed photos of the incident.
“Then it is easy to determine the head of the bandits, who made the announcement, that he is not a Syrian citizen but a Turkish citizen,” Karlov claimed.