Turkey to Russia: Respect Our Borders 10/07 06:22
Turkey's prime minister called on Russia on Wednesday to respect Turkey's
frontiers, saying the country wouldn't "make any concessions" on matters
concerning its border security, after two Russian warplanes strayed into
Turkish airspace over the weekend.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's prime minister called on Russia on Wednesday
to respect Turkey's frontiers, saying the country wouldn't "make any
concessions" on matters concerning its border security, after two Russian
warplanes strayed into Turkish airspace over the weekend.
Ahmet Davutoglu also renewed criticism of Russian airstrikes in Syria,
insisting they were mainly targeting the moderate Syrian opposition and
therefore helping strengthen the Islamic State group. He asked that Russia also
respect Turkey's security concerns over Syria.
Russian warplanes violated Turkey's borders on two occasions over the
weekend, drawing strong protests from Turkey's NATO allies. Turkey scrambled
F-16s in response and also summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge protests.
Ankara also reported harassment of its jets during patrols of the Syrian border
by fighter jets and surface-to-air missile systems in Syria.
Turkey and Russia are important trade partners and Turkey is strongly
dependent on Russian gas imports. The two countries have conflicting positions
on Syria --- with Russia backing President Bashar Assad and Turkey insisting on
his ouster --- but have set differences aside in the past so as not to harm
"We would not want any tensions with Russia, but it is our right as a
neighbor to expect Russia to respect Turkey's airspace and borders and to
respect Turkey's interests in Syria," Davutoglu told reporters in Istanbul.
"We would not make any concessions in connection to our border security and
air space security," he said.
Davutoglu said the information Turkey had indicated that out of 57 air
strikes carried out by Russia in Syria, only two had targeted IS extremists.
"If the Syrian opposition is weakened, this would strengthen Daesh,"
Davutoglu said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic extremist group. "If
the struggle is against Daesh, let's work together. But if they are against the
moderate opposition and being conducted in a way that could lead to a new
refugee influx, then this is a serious issue which needs to be discussed by all
Earlier, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Ankara had proposed a meeting
between Turkish and Russian military officials to be held in Ankara on avoiding
future Russian infringements of Turkey's airspace.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Turkey suggested the meeting
during a meeting with the Russian ambassador who was summoned to the ministry
for a third day running on Tuesday to discuss the Russian violations. The talks
were proposed to allow Russian military officials to explain the intrusions and
clarify measures they intend to take, he said.