Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russia not to “play with fire”, but added he did not want to harm relations with Moscow, comments that appear more likely to inflame than quell the dispute over a downed Russian bomber this week.
Relations among the former Cold War antagonists are at their worst in recent memory following Turkey shot down the jet near the Syrian border on Monday.
Russia has threatened economic retaliation against Ankara, which Mr Erdogan has dismissed as “emotional” and “unfitting”.
“We really sincerely advocate to Russia not to play with fire,” Mr Erdogan told supporters throughout a speech in Bayburt, in northeast Turkey.
“We really attach a lot of importance to our relations with Russia … we don’t want these relations to endure harm in any way.”
Mr Erdogan said he wanted to meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris soon after the downing of a Russian warplane.
“I would like to meet him face to face on Monday,” Erdogan said, soon after days of tit-for-tat accusations over the incident.
Mr Putin has so far refused to get in touch with Mr Erdogan since Ankara does not want to apologise for the downing of the jet, Mr Putin’s aide Yuri Ushakov mentioned.
On Friday, Russia stated it would suspend its visa-free of charge regime for Turkish nationals from January, as a kind of retaliation.
“A choice has been made to halt the visa-free regime with Turkey,” foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters after talks with Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem.
“This selection will enter into force from January 1, 2016.”
Turkey response to Russian jet was in line with protocol
Mr Erdogan said Turkey downed the jet as a outcome of what he referred to as the automatic enforcement of the rules of engagement.
Russia’s reduced home speaker Sergei Naryshkin said on Friday that Moscow had the correct to make a military response, calling the incident an “intentional murder of our soldiers”.
Mr Erdogan mentioned it was not the very first time Russian jets had breached Turkish air space and that he had warned Putin about “ugly incidents” right after two incursions in October.
The president also attacked Russia’s policy in Syria after it launched air strikes in September, accusing the Kremlin of backing the regime of “murderer” president Bashar al-Assad.
He claimed that the Russian air raids did not target the Islamic State group.
He said backing the regime in Damascus right after more than four years of war that has killed 250,000 individuals was like “playing with fire”.
The Turkish strongman also struck back at Russian “slander” that Turkey was acquiring oil from the Islamic State militant group.
“You should know that we are not as dishonourable as to get oil from a terrorist organisation,” he said. “Turkey is buying oil from Russia.”
Mr Erdogan labelled attempts to hyperlink his country with IS jihadists as “disrespectful” to Turkey.
Topics: government-and-politics, unrest-conflict-and-war, neighborhood-and-society, globe-politics, russian-federation, turkey