Turkey to Russia: You may lose our friendship
KONFRONTASI-Turkey says Russia runs the risk of losing its friendly ties with Ankara, after Russian fighter jets violated the Turkish airspace during their anti-Daesh air campaign near the border with neighboring Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued the warning in Belgium during a press conference alongside Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Tuesday.
"If Russia loses a friend like Turkey with whom it has a lot of cooperation it is going to lose a lot of things. It needs to know this," he noted.
The tough remarks came after Russian warplanes violated Turkish airspace over the weekend during Moscow's airstrikes in Syria against the positions of Daesh Takfiri militants.
The Turkish leader added that it Ankara could not “remain patient” about the incursions into the Turkish airspace.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Ankara Andrey Karlov over the incident on Monday.
The ministry, in a statement, said a Russian warplane crossed into the Turkish airspace south of the Yayladagi district in the southern province of Hatay at 12:08 a.m. local time (0908 GMT) on October 3.
The statement added that Turkish officials had expressed strong protest at the violation during the meeting with Karlov, and demanded that Russia not violate the Turkish airspace again. They also warned that Russia would be "responsible for any undesired incident."
Erdogan, meanwhile, said that as a member of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), any attack on his country would be regarded an attack on the military coalition.
On September 30, Russia began its military campaign against terrorists operating in Syria upon a request from the Damascus government.
Russia’s violation ‘not accidental’
In reaction to the incident, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters on Tuesday at NATO headquarters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of the alliance's defense ministers that the incursions by Moscow’s jets do not “look like an accident”, describing them as “a serious violation.”
The comments came a day after he warned Moscow about escalating tensions with the Western military alliance through "unacceptable" violations of the Turkish airspace.
"I call on Russia to fully respect NATO airspace and avoid escalating tensions with the alliance," Stoltenberg said on Monday.
Moscow on the same day confirmed that bad weather forced one of its jets to briefly enter Turkish airspace at the weekend, adding that the incident would not be repeated.
NATO’s Patriot missiles have been deployed on Turkey's southern border with Syria to prevent any spillover of the crisis in the Arab country into Turkey. The missiles are, however, set to be pulled out shortly, reports say.
On the possibility of extension of missiles’ mission, Stoltenberg said NATO is “constantly reviewing the security situation and will take decisions accordingly.”
"Russian actions will be factored into those assessments. We are now in dialogue with Turkey and other allies about what kind of presence will be there for the next year," he added.[mr/ptv]