Putin used to call me brave and bold: Erdoğan

Putin used to call me brave and bold: Erdoğan

Putin used to call me brave and bold: Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, in Paris, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. The leaders discussed the continuing crisis in Syria, and the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Russian President Vladimir Putin used to call him “brave and bold,” before the two countries’ relations soured over Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border on Nov. 24.

“Putin’s statements about me have always been about my bravery and boldness ... He also had many words on my honest statesmanship. When he meets with [former Italian Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi and [former German Chancellor Gerhard] Schröder, his words have always been in that direction,” Erdoğan told reporters en route to Qatar after the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris.

He also stated that “all countries” acknowledged Turkey to be right over the downed jet incident.

“The dominant topic in bilateral talks was developments between Russia and Turkey. I held bilateral talks with [French President François] Hollande, [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, and [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroschenko on the first day. I also had a bilateral conversation with [U.S. President Barack] Obama before leaving Paris. All four agree on Turkey’s justification and the siding of NATO with Turkey over the incident. They said, ‘We will continue to stand by you after this.’ Mr. Obama’s statement at the recent press conference was also very clear,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish president stressed that “problems should be solved diplomatically,” while also touching on his previous claim that Turkey would have “taken a different approach if it had known the jet was Russian.”

“What I meant was that the form of the warning would have been different and the warning period would have been prolonged. After recent incidents in the region, the sensitivity of the rules of engagement has increased. We must be vigilant against airspace violations from Syria. In this sensitive environment there was a jet with unknown nationality that disregarded warnings,” he said. 

“Russia’s attitude in the aftermath of this incident has not been very diplomatic. It has been sensational. It was also not nice to mention sanctions immediately after the incident,” Erdoğan said.

“Previously, airspace violations have been discussed with Russia at all levels. This was not the first such violation. We have documents and there are hundreds of violations. A violation in the Black Sea last year lasted 15 minutes. When we warned, they said ‘the pilots don’t speak English well and there is a misunderstanding.’ The same problems were also faced in the first violation in Syria … These incidents sadden us strategically,” he added.