Turkey calls on Russia to discuss dispute over downed jet

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus says Turkey and Russia need to deal with latest crisis over downing of Russian jet by Turkey through diplomatic channels and not sacrifice bilateral ties

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus speaks to media after the first meeting of the 64th Cabinet of Turkey, in Ankara on November 27, 2015.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said Turkey and Russia will not sacrifice their bilateral relations over the recent downing of a Russian aircraft which violated Turkish airspace.

"I would like to mention sincerely that neither Turkey nor the Russian Federation are going to remove or sacrifice their relationship because of this situation," Kurtulmus told the media after a Cabinet meeting in Ankara.

"We wish this crisis to not grow bigger, not to go further, [and hope it will] be dealt with through mutual negotiations within a short time," he said.

Kurtulmus said that Turkey had shown utmost care to not get involved in another crisis since the country was already located in a region, which had been turned into a "ring of fire."

But, at the same time he said that everyone should know that Turkey would take "all measures to protect its sovereignty" and would remain vigilant.

"Turkey and Russia as two friendly allies and even strategic partner states will take steps to eliminate the consequences of this crisis," he said.

He said that in order "To achieve that, we hope that they [Russia] will keep open the diplomatic and military channels."

Kurtulmus' comments come as tensions between Russia and Turkey, a NATO member country, increased this week after Turkey downed a Russian aircraft for violating its airspace.

On Tuesday, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets on an aerial patrol intercepted an unidentified warplane within Turkey's rules of engagement when it intruded into Turkish airspace on the Turkey-Syrian border.

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

The Russian Defense Ministry later announced that its Russian SU-24 bomber jet had been shot down. It crashed in the Syrian region of Bayirbucak close to Yayladagi district of Turkey's southern Hatay Province.

NATO confirmed the accuracy of information shared by Turkey about the violation.

It was not the first time Russian fighter jets had violated Turkish airspace. Russian warplanes had also breached Turkish airspace in early October. Russian officials apologised and pledged that no such incident would be repeated while Turkey repeated its warning on its rules of engagement, including that violations of Turkish airspace would be met with a military response.