Defying calls from Moscow, Turkey’s prime minister said Monday that his country won’t apologize to Russia for shooting down a warplane operating over Syria, saying the Turkish military was doing its job defending the national airspace.
Amid high tensions that have elicited concerns from the U.N chief, Ahmet Davutoglu also said Turkey hopes Moscow will reconsider economic sanctions announced against Turkish interests in the wake of last week’s incident. The Turkish resort town of Antalya is “like a second home” to many Russian holidaymakers, he said, but refused to yield on Turkish security.
“No Turkish prime minister or president will apologize … because of doing our duty,” Davutoglu told reporters after meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. “Protection of Turkish airspace, Turkish borders is a national duty, and our army did their job to protect this airspace. But if the Russian side wants to talk, and wants to prevent any future unintentional events like this, we are ready to talk.”
Turkey is a member of the NATO alliance.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told The Associated Press on Sunday that he’s deeply concerned about tensions between Russia and Turkey after Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian warplane on Nov. 24.
Russia on Sept. 30 began airstrikes in Syria that it says are focused on fighters of the Islamic State, but which some observers say target other rebel groups and are aimed at bolstering the forces of President Bashar Assad. Russia insists that the plane that was shot down did not intrude on Turkish airspace.
Davutoglu insisted a violation occurred, and said Turkey had repeatedly warned Russia about incursions into its airspace.
“We also made very clear that the Turkish-Syria border is a national security issue for Turkey. So it was a defensive action,” Davutoglu said. He repeated Turkish assertions that there were no IS fighters in the area.
“We have been telling our Russian friends that their bombardments against civilians on our border is creating new waves of refugees which do not go to Russia or to any other country — but coming to Turkey,” he said.
“And Turkey, after every bombardment, [is] receiving more and more — tens of thousands of refugees from Syria,” Davutoglu added. “Turkey is a country paying the price of this crisis.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey including bans on some Turkish goods and extensions on work contracts for Turks working in Russia. The measures also call for ending chartered flights from Russia to Turkey and for Russian tourism companies to stop selling vacation packages that would include a stay in Turkey.
Oh dear, did Turkey safeguard its airspace and go overboard and now it is being asked to apologise? Something is vaguely familiar! Moh rabu maasecho Hashem…!