Merkel urges calm after Turkey shoots down Russian jet

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urges Turkey and Russia to calm their rhetoric over downing of Russian jet by Turkish Air Force, asserting Turkey’s right to defend its territory

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande (not seen) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on November 25, 2015.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a de-escalation in tensions between Turkey and Russia after the recent downing of a Russian warplane that violated Turkish airspace.

"Of course, every country has a right to protect its territory," Merkel said on Wednesday during her speech at the preliminary session of the German parliament in Berlin.

"But, on the other hand, we know what kind of a tense situation we have in Syria and in the surrounding region. I have talked with Turkish prime minister yesterday and urged to do everything to de-escalate the situation," she said.

"We must now do everything to prevent an escalation."

Merkel said that the downing of the Russian aircraft further complicated the situation in Syria, but underlined that only a political solution could end the civil-war in the country.

"It is important that all the actors which are indispensable for a solution to the Syria conflict sit on the same table, Russia, the US, the Europeans, the Arab states, Iran and Turkey," she said.

Merkel hoped that the Vienna talks, which enabled global and regional actors to sit on the same table for a solution to the Syrian conflict, would not be hampered by the downing of the Russian warplane on Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Ankara did not want to escalate the incident, but could not remain silent in the face of constant violations of its border security.

Erdogan said that Ankara had conveyed its sensitivity regarding the violations before and did its best on its part to avoid such an incident.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the event will "bear serious consequences" for Turkish-Russian relations. He also claimed that Russian warplanes had been conducting an operation against DAESH north of Latakia in Syria.

However, the Turkish president rejected the Russian claim of a DAESH presence north of Latakia, saying that Turkmen, not DAESH have a presence in the region.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias expressed deep concern over the incident in a phone call to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday.

Kotzias said that it was crucial to defuse tensions and urged all sides involved to address the situation calmly. He also assured Lavrov of Greece’s support for the talks in Vienna to resolve the Syrian issue.

On Tuesday, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets on an aerial patrol intercepted a Russian warplane when it intruded into Turkish airspace on the Turkey-Syria border.

The intruding aircraft was warned 10 times within five minutes before it was shot down.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that its Russian SU-24 fighter jet had been shot down and crashed in the Syrian region of Bayirbucak close to Yayladagi district of southern Hatay province.

NATO confirmed the accuracy of the information that Turkey shared with it about the incident..

This was not the first time Russian fighter jets had violated Turkish airspace. In early October Russian warplanes had breached Turkish airspace for which Russian officials apologised and pledged that no such incident would be repeated. Turkey had also renewed its warning that it would implement rules of engagement, including military response against violations of Turkish airspace.