Turkish, Greek PMs in Twitter spat over airspace violations

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu hits back at Twitter comments made by Greek PM Alexis Tsipras criticising the downing of Russian fighter jet last week

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A combination photo shows Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) arriving separately at a EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, Belgium on November 29, 2015.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has responded to comments made by his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras on Twitter over the downing of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border last week.

A Russian Su-24 fighter jet was shot down by a Turkish F-16 on Nov. 24 as it was carrying out air strikes on Syrian opposition forces in Syria’s northwestern coastal province of Latakia, near the Turkish border.

According to the evidence provided by the Turkish authorities, Russian Su-24 fighter jet was shot down after violating Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, despite being given a total of 10 warnings in five minutes.

On his official English-language Twitter account, Tsipras slammed Turkey for shooting down the Russian jet by mentioning violations of Greek airspace by Turkish jets over the Aegean.

Tsipras also said these violations are forcing the two countries to spend more on the militarisation of the region, leaving not enough funds to tackle the problem of human trafficking of refugees across the sea.

"Fortunately our pilots are not as mercurial as yours (were) against the Russians," Tsipras wrote on his @tsipras_eu Twitter page.

"What is happening in the Aegean is outrageous and unbelievable. We're spending billions on weapons. You -- to violate our airspace, we -- to intercept you," Tsipras added.

"We have the most modern aerial weapons systems -- and yet, on the ground, we can't catch traffickers who drown innocent people."

Although Tsipras later deleted the comments from his page, the comments were left undeleted on his Greek-language Twitter account @atsipras.

Davutoglu, meanwhile, hit back against Tsipras on Monday, telling him he should focus on a "positive agenda" on his own official Twitter account @Ahmet_Davutoglu.

"Comments on pilots by @atsipras seem hardly in tune with the spirit of the day. Alexis: let us focus on our positive agenda," Davutoglu said, referring to a deal struck between Turkey and the EU to deal with the refugee crisis on Sunday.

Under the agreement, the EU confirmed that the 28-nation bloc will provide 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The agreement is not only expected to reduce the number of refugees entering the EU but also crack down on illegal human trafficking with increased border controls.

Turkey hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees with almost 2.2 million refugees.

TRTWorld and agencies