Turkey-US talk over easing Russia tension

Turkey-US talk over easing Russia tension

Turkey-US talk over easing Russia tension

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) shakes hands with US President Barak Obama (R) during the G20 LEaders Summit wellcoming cerenomy on November 15,2015 in Antalya. AFP Photo

Turkey’s president and his U.S. counterpart spoke in person in Paris on Dec. 1 to discuss an easing of tensions between Ankara and Moscow after Turkey down a Russian jet on Nov. 24 due to an alleged airspace violation. 

Meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. climate change conference in Paris, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 1 to reduce tensions with Russia while stressing U.S. support for its NATO ally’s security. 

The meeting came one day after Erdoğan said he would be ready to quit office if allegations by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that Turkey traded oil with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were proven true.

“The United States supports Turkey’s right to defend itself and its airspace ... We discussed how Turkey and Russia can work together to de-escalate tensions and find a diplomatic path to resolve the issue,” Obama said after the meeting with Erdoğan on Dec. 1. 

Obama said he stressed to Erdoğan that ISIL was the enemy that all sides needed to focus on. 

Erdoğan said Dec. 1 following the meeting with Obama that the two had discussed Turkish-Russian tensions. 
“Our concern is to not come out badly from this, but on the contrary, to turn this into peace and contribute to the peace in the region,” Erdoğan said. 

Obama added that the U.S. was eager to accelerate work on its military-to-military relationship with Turkey to ensure its NATO ally was safe and to help resolve the conflict in Syria.

On Nov. 30, Obama pushed for a “de-escalation” of a furious war between Erdoğan and Putin, a White House official said.

“President Obama expressed his regret for the recent loss of a Russian pilot and crew member and reiterated the United States’ support for de-escalation between Russia and Turkey,” the White House official said.

On the same day, Erdoğan challenged Putin as to whether or not he would stay in his post if the latter’s allegations on ISIL oil was proven to be wrong. 

“I will say something very strong here. If such a thing is proven, the nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office,” Erdoğan was quoted by the state-run Anadolu Agency as saying on Nov. 30 during the climate talks, which Putin is also attending.

Challenging Putin, who has refused to meet the Turkish leader after the incident, Erdoğan added: “And I tell Mr. Putin, ‘Will you stay in that office?’ I say this clearly.”    

Putin earlier on Nov. 30 accused Ankara of shooting down the Russian Su-24 warplane last week to protect supplies of oil from ISIL to Turkey, charges Turkey vehemently denies.

“We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory, right to the ports where it is loaded onto tankers,” Putin said during a news conference on the fringes of the climate talks, echoing similar accusations he made last week.

“We have received additional information which unfortunately confirms that this oil, produced in areas controlled by the [ISIL] and other terrorist organizations, is transported on an industrial scale to Turkey,” Russian leader said. 

Erdoğan rebuked Putin’s allegations, saying Turkey obtained all its oil and gas imports “through legal paths.”
“We are not dishonest so as to do this kind of exchange with terrorist groups. Everyone needs to know this,” Erdoğan stated.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu earlier called on Dec. 1 for the opening of communication channels between Turkey and Russia to prevent further incidents like the downing of the warplane. 

Putin had signed a decree imposing economic sanctions on Turkey after the incident, while Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Dec. 1 signed a government order approving a raft of sanctions to be imposed on Turkey over the downing incident. 

The order, published on the government’s official website, included a list of the agricultural products that Russia will no longer import from Turkey from Jan. 1, 2016, Reuters reported.