Russia is our friend, neighbor: Turkish PM

Russia is our friend, neighbor: Turkish PM

Russia is our friend, neighbor: Turkish PM

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. AA Photo

Turkey is not aiming to escalate tension with Russia, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Nov. 25, echoing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following the downing of a SU-24 Russian jet the previous day.

“Russia is our friend and neighbor. Our bilateral communication channels are open. But our security, as for every friendly country, should be based on the principle of respect under international law. It’s normal to protect our national airspace,” Davutoğlu said, addressing party members in parliament. 

Everybody should know that Turkey will take all necessary measures to maintain its border security, he said.

The prime minister also said “both parties should take care not to escalate the tension.”

The downing of Russian jet on Nov. 24 was not an incident that Turkey desired, Davutoğlu said. While noting Turkey’s strong political, economic, cultural ties with Russia, Davutoğlu said Ankara had underlined the importance of avoiding such incidents in every meeting with Russian officials.

The prime minister said two Russian warplanes violated Turkish airspace on Nov. 24, with one plane leaving the airspace as the other was hit by Turkish F-16s because it continued to violate Turkey’s territory. Some Turkish citizens were injured by falling parts of the aircraft on Turkish territory, he added. 

Davutoğlu claimed that Turkish F-16 jets opened fire at the Russian warplane while it was in Turkish airspace, although radar printouts shared by Turkey’s General Staff appeared to show that the plane was hit in Syrian airspace.

The prime minister recalled meetings between Turkish Russian officials after Russian aircraft first violated Turkish airspace, saying Ankara informed Moscow several times about the rules of engagement. 

“We repeatedly informed Russian authorities and made necessary warnings. We stressed that regardless of the nation, any aircraft violating Turkish airspace would be shot down, as we emphasized [that they should] not make any other violations,” he said. 

A security summit was conducted on Nov. 22, he said, adding that he instructed the Turkish Armed Forces to “take all necessary measures” during the meeting.

“We aren’t targeting Russia or any other country. But we won’t hesitate for the security of our soil,” he said.

Davutoğlu also extended support once more to Turkmen groups in the Bayırbucak region and said Syrian government forces, with the participation of Russian airplanes, were targeting innocent people in a putative fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).