Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday that Turkey will not apologise to Russia for the downing of a Russian warplane as it was a defensive act, in a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
‘’To protect Turkey’s borders and airspace is not only a right but also a national duty and our army fulfilled its duty to protect the airspace.’’ Davutoglu said at the press conference in Brussels.
Davutoglu added ‘’We would not wish to be faced with such an incident however the rules of engagement were clear and we had already warned our neighbour and ally Russia to respect our air space three times.’’
‘’We are not aiming to increase the tension over this incident and our country is ready to hold talks with Russia,’’ he also said.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also supported Turkey's right to protect its border and airspace, adding that the alliance would back efforts to deescalate tensions as Turkey makes efforts to contact Russia.
A Russian Sukhoi SU-24 fighter jet was shot down by Turkish F-16s due to making violation of their airspace in the region of the Turkmen Mountain which is located in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border.
Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) released the radar footages of the incident which has indicated the downed warplane violated the Turkish airspace over the country’s Hatay province near its Syria border.
The incident has caused a political crisis between the countries which have strong economic ties, leading Turkish and Russian leaders to issue warnings against each other.
Russia took strict measures against Turkey as it imposed economic sanctions, announced an end to the visa-free regime and called on Russian tourists not to visit Turkey.
Russia also prevented the purchase of Turkish goods and forbid extensions of labour contracts for Turkish citizens working in Russia as of January 1.
Criticising Russia’s economic sanctions on Turkey, Davutoglu said that “Russia was against economic sanctions themselves, it is contradictory to use the same measure, which was criticised by them when other countries did so in Ukraine,” recalling the sanction of European countries on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
Davutoglu also called on Russian citizens to continue visiting Turkey saying "Russian people are friendly to us. For many of them, Antalya is like their second home…we expect our Russian friends to come to Turkey in a friendly manner as Turkey is a like a second home for Russian tourists."