Turkey, Russia to ‘continue cooperation against terror’ despite assassination of Karlov

Turkey, Russia to ‘continue cooperation against terror’ despite assassination of Karlov

Turkey, Russia to ‘continue cooperation against terror’ despite assassination of Karlov

AP photo

Russia and Turkey vowed to deepen cooperation in the fight against terror following the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov in a gun attack on Dec. 19. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan both condemned the attack, saying relations between the two countries would remain firm and vowing to fight jointly against terror in the face of “provocations.” 

In a televised speech on Dec. 19, Erdoğan said the assassination of Karlov was an “open provocation” against Turkey-Russia relations.

“We know that this is a provocation especially to hamper the normalization process between Turkey and Russia, but both the Russian government and the Turkish government have the will to not submit to this provocation,” said Erdoğan. 

He added that upon his talk with Putin both of them “agreed that especially in the fight against international terror, our solidarity will be much stronger.” 

“As we have agreed with Putin, we will launch a joint investigation commission,” Erdoğan also said, conveying Ankara’s keen interest in enlightening the assassination that was carried out by a 22-year-old Turkish riot police officer.   

Erdoğan added that Turkey would increase security measures around Russian diplomatic buildings and people. 

Putin also described the assassination of Karlov as “a provocation” and vowed that it would only “fortify Russia’s fight against terrorism.” 

“The best response to the attack against the Russian ambassador is strengthening the fight against terror,” he said, adding that a state medal will be granted on behalf of Karlov.

“A crime has been committed and it was without doubt a provocation aimed at spoiling the normalization of Russo-Turkish relations and spoiling the Syrian peace process, which is being actively pushed by Russia, Turkey, Iran and others,” said Putin. 

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also said the murder of Karlov was aimed “not only at the Russian ambassador, but also at those who are for peace and human life,” vowing that Moscow will “not allow the incident to go unpunished.” 

Medvedev noted via his official social media account that Karlov was shot while he was expressing Russia’s efforts for cooperation, friendship, the preservation of peace, and the fight against terror. 

“Andrey Karlov’s weapon was his speech. But the killer spoke in another language, which was not acceptable for normal people whose values were protected during the lifetime of Andrey Karlov. He lost his life like a hero,” he said.  

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also condemned the attack and stressed that Ankara would not “fall into the trap of terror” and would not allow ties between the two countries to be damaged. 

Speaking ahead of a meeting in Russia over Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also said the attack aimed to disrupt the relationship between Turkey and Russia, adding that “both sides are aware of the plot.”   

Çavuşoğlu vowed that those responsible would pay the price.

For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “this tragedy forces all of us to fight more decisively against terrorism,” adding that Moscow will take “measures that will make it impossible for those who helped the people organizing this crime and ordering the crime to carry out their plans.”

Russian-Turkish relations went through an intense crisis in the aftermath of the November 2015 Turkish downing of a Russian jet on Turkish-Syrian border that led to the death of a Russian pilot. Russia imposed a series of tough economic sanctions on Turkey after the downing, and ties between the two countries were also badly damaged due to their choice of alliances in the Syrian war. 

A rapprochement process began in June 2016, when Erdoğan officially expressed his sorrow of the jet downing, and recently Ankara and Moscow worked together to secure the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo, as rebel-held areas of the Syrian city were besieged by forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime.