Er­do­gan ‘sad­dened’ by down­ing of Rus­sian jet

Tur­key warns against Rus­sia travel in tit-for-tat

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

ANKARA: Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan yes­ter­day voiced re­gret over Tur­key’s down­ing of a Rus­sian war­plane, say­ing his coun­try was “truly sad­dened” by the in­ci­dent and wished it hadn’t occurred. It was the first ex­pres­sion of re­gret by the strong­man leader since Tues­day’s in­ci­dent in which Turk­ish F-16 jets shot down the Rus­sian jet on grounds that it had vi­o­lated Tur­key’s airspace de­spite re­peated warn­ings to change course. It was the first time in half a cen­tury that a NATO mem­ber shot down a Rus­sian plane and drew a harsh re­sponse from Moscow.

“We are truly sad­dened by this in­ci­dent,” Er­do­gan said. “We wish it hadn’t hap­pened as such, but un­for­tu­nately such a thing has hap­pened. I hope that some­thing like this doesn’t oc­cur again.” Ad­dress­ing supporters in the western city of Ba­like­sir, Er­do­gan said nei­ther coun­try should al­low the in­ci­dent to es­ca­late and take a de­struc­tive form that would lead to “sad­den­ing con­se­quences”.

He re­newed a call for a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on the side­lines of a cli­mate con­fer­ence in Paris next week, say­ing it would be an op­por­tu­nity to over­come ten­sions. Er­do­gan’s friendly over­ture how­ever, came af­ter he again vig­or­ously de­fended Tur­key’s ac­tion and crit­i­cized Rus­sia for its oper­a­tions in Syria. “If we al­low our sov­er­eign rights to be vi­o­lated ... then the ter­ri­tory would no longer be our ter­ri­tory,” Er­do­gan said.

Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Ah­met Davu­to­glu also said he hoped a meet­ing be­tween Er­do­gan and Putin would take place in Paris. “In such sit­u­a­tions it is im­por­tant to keep the chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open,” he said. Putin has de­nounced the Turk­ish ac­tion as a “treach­er­ous stab in the back”, and has in­sisted that the plane was downed over Syr­ian ter­ri­tory in vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law. He has also re­fused to take tele­phone calls from Er­do­gan. Putin’s for­eign af­fairs ad­viser, Yuri Ushakov, said Fri­day that the Krem­lin had re­ceived Er­do­gan’s re­quest for a meet­ing, but wouldn’t say whether such a meet­ing is pos­si­ble.

Asked why Putin hasn’t picked up the phone to re­spond to Er­do­gan’s two phone calls, he said that “we have seen that the Turk­ish side hasn’t been ready to of­fer an el­e­men­tary apol­ogy over the plane in­ci­dent”. Af­ter the in­ci­dent, Rus­sia de­ployed long-range S-400 air de­fense mis­sile sys­tems to a Rus­sian air base in Syria just 50 km south of the border with Tur­key to help pro­tect Rus­sian war­planes, and the Rus­sian mil­i­tary warned it would shoot down any aerial tar­get that would pose a po­ten­tial threat to its planes.

Rus­sia has since also re­stricted tourist travel to Tur­key, left Turk­ish trucks stranded at the border, con­fis­cated large quan­ti­ties of Turk­ish food im­ports and started preparing a raft of broader eco­nomic sanc­tions. Yes­ter­day, Tur­key is­sued a travel warn­ing urg­ing its na­tion­als to de­lay non-ur­gent and un­nec­es­sary travel to Rus­sia, say­ing Turk­ish trav­el­ers were fac­ing “prob­lems” in the coun­try. It said Turks should de­lay travel plans un­til “the sit­u­a­tion be­comes clear”. —AP

BAY­BURT, Tur­key: Tur­key’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan ad­dresses a rally in this town on Fri­day. — AP

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