Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “not to play with fire” in Syria by supporting the Assad regime, which is carrying out state terrorism, and attacking legitimate opposition in the country.
Erdogan’s statement is a clear reply to what Putin previously said regarding Turkey following the downing of a Russian jet by the Turkish Air Forces. Russian President accused Turkey of being “accomplices of terrorists,” saying that "those who implement double standards in terrorism play with fire."
Erdogan said, “We have intimately been suggesting Russia not to play with fire,” citing Russian support to the brutal policies of the Assad regime, detaining innocent Turkish businessman in Russia, and irresponsibly attacking both moderate Syrian opposition forces and humanitarian aid convoys in the country.
A Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplane has been shot down by Turkish F-16 jets due to violating the airspace of Turkey on Nov. 24.
Turkish-Russian relations have been considerably damaged by the incident as Russia is putting restrictions on food imports from Turkey and detaining Turkish businessman for unknown reasons.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other officials have also declared that the country's economic relations with Turkey will be severed.
In addition, there have been media reports that Russia has already suspended its military cooperation with Turkey.
Furthermore, the Russian President has been insistently asking for an apology from Turkish leaders since the incident occurred which he described as a “stab in the back” and warned Turkey of "serious consequences."
“We have still not heard any comprehensible apologies from the Turkish political leaders, or any offers to compensate for the damage caused, or promises to punish the criminals for their crime,” he repeated.
Russia has been denying that its plane committed any airspace violation and objected to the Turkish statement that a warning was issued to its pilots.
Turkish Army released audio recordings of warnings that were given to the Russian pilot before the jet was shot down.
NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg previously announced that the Atlantic alliance backs the Turkish account of the downing of a Russian fighter jet on the grounds that it had violated the Turkish airspace.
Erdogan has responded to the Russian claims saying that his country will not apologise to Russia on the issue and emphasised that “Our air forces did their duty in line with the rules; otherwise Turkey has no reason to deliberately target Russia which we have strong relations.’’
"Turkey would have to undertake the same reaction if the same violation were carried out today," he added.
Erdogan stated in a speech in the Black Sea province of Bayburt on Friday that, he reminded Putin, during the G20 Antalya Summit on Nov. 15-16, that Russian warplanes have made several airspace violations over southern Turkish territory and that this needs to be stopped.
However, Putin reacted to Erdogan saying that Turkey could “host” Russian planes in its airspace which Erdogan flatly rejected invoking a Turkish proverb of “Uninvited guests are not welcome.”
Erdogan has also retorted to Russian accusations that Turkey has connections with the DAESH terrorist organisation, doing oil smuggling with the group.
Russia is “disrespecting” Turkey through such baseless accusations, he recounted.
The Turkish President declared in another speech on Thursday that DAESH is indeed selling oil to the Assad regime which should be the first place to look to determine who is arming and financing DAESH.
On the other hand, Turkey is the only country that is sincerely fighting against DAESH, he added.
Erdogan also stated that, "We disapprove linking the recent incident to our political and economic ties [with Russia] though the world accepts we are right on the issue."
He announced on Thursday in a CNN interview that he has requested a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris during the climate summit on Nov. 30 in order to discuss ways to settle down the latest issue between the countries concerning the downing of a Russian fighter jet.