Turkish President Erdoğan warns Russia ‘not to play with fire’
AA PhotoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned Russia “not to play with fire” in the wake of a crisis between Ankara and Moscow following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey on Nov. 24 near the Syrian border.
“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin says ‘those who have double standards on terrorism are playing with fire.’ I totally agree with him,” Erdoğan said Nov. 27 in the northern province of Bayburt.
“Indeed, supporting the [Bashar] al-Assad regime in Syria, which has killed 380,000 people, is playing with fire. Striking opposition groups that have international legitimacy with the excuse of fighting against Daesh [an acronym of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL] is playing with fire. Using an incident in which Turkey’s righteousness is accepted by the whole world as an excuse to torment our citizens who were in Russia to attend a fair is playing with fire. Irresponsibly hitting trucks in the region that are there for trade or humanitarian reasons is playing with fire. We sincerely advise Russia not to play with fire,” he added.
Erdoğan also expressed his willingness to meet Putin during the upcoming climate change summit in Paris in order to find common ground and avoid a further escalation of tension.
“We are uncomfortable with efforts to take the dispute over the downed jet into other areas of relations. Let’s not allow that to happen,” he said, underlining that maintaining good relations was beneficial for both countries.
Claiming that Turkey’s shooting down of the Russian jet was not “intentional” but simply a result of an automatic enforcement of rules of engagement, Erdoğan nevertheless argued that Turkey was right to do so.
“Turkey has proved its honesty” by releasing audio recordings of the warnings issued to the Russian pilots, he added.
Erdoğan also touched on the joint press conference held by Putin and French President François Hollande on Nov. 26, describing the former’s comments as “unacceptable.” Denying allegations that Turkey has been purchasing oil from ISIL, Erdoğan said the oil trade between ISIL, Russia and the Syrian regime had been documented by the United States.