President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey did not want any escalation after it shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border, saying it had simply acted to defend its own security and the “rights of our brothers” in Syria.
But while neither side has shown any interest in a military escalation, Russia has made clear it will exact economic revenge through trade and tourism. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that important joint projects could be cancelled and Turkish firms could lose Russian market share.
The downing of the jet on Tuesday was one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member and Russia for half a century, and further complicated international efforts to battle Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane was attacked when it was 1 kilometers inside Syria and warned of “serious consequences” for what he described as a stab in the back administered by “the accomplices of terrorists.”
U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, seeking to forge a broader alliance against ISIS after attacks in Paris this month, pressed Russia to focus on the group and urged Moscow and Ankara not to let the situation escalate.
Speaking at a business event in Istanbul, Erdogan said the Russian jet had been fired at while in Turkish airspace but had crashed inside Syria, although he said parts of it landed in Turkey and injured two Turkish citizens.
“We have no intention of escalating this incident. We are only defending our own security and the rights of our brothers,” Erdogan said, adding Turkey’s policy in Syria would not change.
“We will continue our humanitarian efforts on both sides of the (Syrian) border. We are determined to take all necessary measures to prevent a new wave of immigration.”
Turkey has been angered by Russian air strikes in Syria targeting Turkmens near its border, who are Syrians of Turkish descent. It had repeatedly warned Russia over airspace violations since October and last week summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against the bombing of Turkmen villages.
Putin has said Russian planes had in no way threatened Turkey, but had merely been carrying out their duty to fight ISIS militants inside Syria.
Erdogan dismissed that version of events.
“It has been said that they were there to fight Daesh,” he said of Russian air strikes, and using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“First of all, the Daesh terrorist organization does not have a presence in this region of Latakia and the north where Turkmens are based. Let’s not fool ourselves.”
He said Turkey had made a “huge effort” to prevent an incident like the downing of the Russian aircraft, but that the limits of its patience had been tested.
Putin on Wednesday accused Turkey’s political leaders of encouraging the “Islamisation” of Turkish society, something he described as a deeper problem than the downing of the jet.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر