Turkey and Russia have agreed to work together to shed light on Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish reconnaissance jet in international waters, a day after Moscow described the attack as “unintentional and not provocative,” obviously challenging Ankara’s technical findings on the incident.
Turkey repeated once again that it had no intention of attacking Syria, a country it described as a “rogue state,” but vowed that it would “respond to any hostile act in the strongest terms.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday to share the information collected by the Turkish military and intelligence on how the attack occurred on June 22.
The office of the prime minister said Erdogan had called Putin yesterday to discuss the incident. “Putin expressed his deep sorrow over the incident during the talk … Our prime minister and Mr. Putin have agreed to stay in touch for an immediate and full clarification of the incident,” a statement from Erdogan’s office read.
The call came just a day after the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich urged restraint on both Turkey and Syria, and underlined that Russia believes it “is important to not consider this incid;ent as a provocation or an intentional act.”
Erdo?an publicly criticized the Russian spokesman’s statement late Tuesday, accusing Moscow of using Damascus’ language over the incident and saying that this statement was different to what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had told Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a phone conversation over the weekend.
Ankara has proven that its F4-E jet was downed by Syria 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast in international waters, while Damascus insists that the incident took place in its airspace. Echoing his Tuesday statement, in which he described Syria as a “clear and present danger” to Turkey’s security and said that the Turkish military had amended its rules of engagement, Erdo?an yesterday described Turkey’s southern neighbor as a “rogue state.”
“Those who challenge Turkey’s greatness and act in a hostile way will get their response in the strongest terms,” Erdogan said in a ceremony held at the Turkish Airspace Industry (TAI). “As Turkey, the Turkish nation, we have no intention of attacking [Syria],” he stated.
Turkey does not have its eye on the lands of any country, and does not have any hostile intent toward any country, the prime minister said. However, it would not hesitate to reply with its entire power against any hostile act or aggressive threat, he added.
“Big states have enemies,” the prime minister said, adding that growing states would also have foes and enviers.
He said that those who perceive the attacks on Turkish planes, soldiers, police, or the Turkish flag as weakness, were lacking a “great state” vision. He also added that they were still hopeful of finding the two missing pilots of the downed jet.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made a general call to all regional countries and global powers to share their military radar tracks and any other information about the incident. Russia has a military base in southern Syria and is known to renew its radar system recently, and Davuto?lu and Lavrov will be able to meet on Saturday on the margins of an international meeting on Syria in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Vice President of Iran Ali Saidlo is expected to meet with President Abdullah Gul today to extend an invitation for the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, slated for late August. Iran has already offered mediation between Turkey and Syria after the downing of the jet.
Also today, the country’s top security board will be convened under the leadership of President Gül and with the participation of senior civilian and military officials. The National Security Council (MGK) is expected to issue a strongly-worded statement, recalling the measures outlined by Erdo?an on Tuesday, including the fact that any Syrian military element found close to the Turkish border will now be considered a threat and will be treated accordingly./Hurriyet Daily News/