Turkish PM: Downed drone was Russian-made

Davutoglu said the downing of the drone proved Turkey is determined to react against any air space incursions. (File: AP)

A drone shot down by Turkish warplanes in Turkish air space near Syria on Friday was Russian-made, but Moscow has told Ankara the unmanned aircraft did not belong to Russia, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday.

The drone was downed on Friday after it continued on its flight path despite three warnings, the Turkish military said. Earlier this month, Russian jets violated Turkish air space on two occasions and Ankara warned it would respond if such incursions recurred.

“The downed drone is Russian-made but Russia has told us in a friendly manner that it doesn’t belong to them,” Davutoglu said in an interview with Turkish broadcaster AHaber.

A U.S. official said Washington believed the drone was of Russian origin. Davutoglu said it could have belonged to Syrian government forces, whose biggest arms supplier is Russia, or to the Syrian Kurdish PYD militia or other elements.

The incident highlighted the risks to NATO member Turkey as Syrian, Russian and U.S. coalition aircraft target various insurgent groups inside Syria often close to Turkish borders.

Davutoglu said the downing of the drone proved Turkey is determined to react against any air space incursions. “This incident...has shown that Turkey both has the capacity and the political will to put an end to such violations,” he said.

“I hope Russia, whose friendship and neighborliness we value, will adopt a more careful stance and Turkish-Russian relations will not be negatively affected.”

Turkey ‘not a concentration camp’

In the same interview, Davutoglu said his country was “not a concentration camp” and would not host migrants permanently to appease the EU, which wants Turkey to stop the flow of people to Europe.

“We cannot accept an understanding like ‘give us the money and they stay in Turkey’. Turkey is not a concentration camp,” he said a day after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the migrant crisis.

“I said this to Merkel too. No-one should expect Turkey to turn into a concentration camp where all the refugees stay in,” he said.

But he agreed that “illegal immigration should be properly kept under control, therefore we will set up joint mechanisms” to contain the historic influx of Syrians and others escaping conflict, persecution and poverty who use Turkey as a gateway to Europe.

“We spoke of three billion euros ($3.4 billion) as ‘fresh money’ but it is not a fixed sum. Our (financial) needs may increase,” Davutoglu said.

Merkel on Sunday had hailed progress on an EU-driven “action plan” after talks in Istanbul with Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Brussels has offered Turkey financial help and an acceleration of its drive for EU membership among other sweeteners to persuade it to do more to tighten its border security.

Though Turkey had initially poured cold water on Brussels’ plan, describing it as nothing more than a draft, both Merkel and the Turkish leadership indicated that officials were making progress towards a deal on cooperation.

More than 630,000 people fleeing war and misery have landed on Europe’s shores so far this year, many making risky sea crossings from Turkey to Greece.

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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