Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that his country will not allow anyone to violate its sovereign rights. However, he also stated that Turkey holds no grudge against countries which have a different agenda concerning the Syrian conflict.
“We have no particular animosity toward the countries which have a different point of view regarding Syria. Having said that nobody should expect from us to make a minor appeasement of our sensitivities connected to our sovereign rights,” Erdogan said in a speech on Thursday.
“This nation could stay hungry, or it could be out in the cold, but it will never give up from its independence,” he noted.
Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet over an air space violation in north-western Syria near the Turkish border on Nov. 24.
Turkey and Russia have been disagreeing over how the Syrian civil war should be resolved, as Turkey and the US-led coalition against DAESH have consistently called on Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad to step down and backed Syrian opposition groups, while Russia and Iran have supported the regime since the beginning of the conflict.
The recent incident has caused a political crisis between the countries which have strong economic ties with each other, leading Turkish and Russian leaders to issue warnings to one another.
President Erdogan said the incident has invoked a historical episode going back to the late 16th century when the Ottoman Empire had been ruling most of the world.
He quoted a famous statement of Sokullu Mehmet Pasha, a well-known Ottoman grand vizier, who said at the time regarding a critical Ottoman-European naval war that, "We have cut your arm by conquering Cyprus, but you shaved our beard in Inebahti [Lepanto]. Cutting arm could not be recovered, but shaving beard will grow even stronger."
In 1571, a large fleet of European states had defeated the Ottoman Empire naval forces at the Gulf of Corinth off western Greek coast in the Battle of Lepanto after the Ottomans conquered Cyprus, securing most of the eastern Mediterranean territory.
Following the incident, Russia decided to impose economic sanctions, including many of its import products of fruits and vegetables in Turkey which has been importing a considerable amount of its gas from Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that if anyone thinks “they are going to get away with some measures concerning their tomatoes or some limits on construction and other sectors, they are sorely mistaken,” in his annual state of the nation address.
However, he said that his country will not engage in military sabre-rattling with Turkey, but added “We will not stop reminding them of what they did and they will not stop regretting their actions.”
After the Turkish-Russian political crisis has further escalated, Erdogan made an immediate visit to Qatar on Wednesday to buy more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the country, overseeing an extensive agreement with the Qatari national oil company, signalling that Turkey has several options other than Russia.
Turkey’s Anadolu Agency has reported that the country imports 8.4 percent of its LNG from Algeria and 2.8 percent from Nigeria and its total LNG consumption is about 55 billion cubic meters.
Turkish media has reported on Thursday that an Algerian-flagged LNG tanker, which is named Larbi Ben Mhidi, passed the strait of the Dardanelles. The tanker had been carrying about 55,400 tonnes of LNG which has been designated to the port of Marmara Eregli in Turkey’s Black Sea.
Erdogan recounted in his latest remarks that, “Turkey today also has a status [in the world as in the past] as a country with which whoever has been befriended wins and whoever has been nurturing enmity loses.”
Erdogan declared in early October that, “Russia will lose much if it loses Turkey,” concerning the high-level Russian intervention on the Syrian conflict.