Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has attempted to justify the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft by addressing a hypothetical question to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Indicating that the Russian leadership would have had to take a similar move if Turkey had become militarily involved in the Ukrainian crisis in the past, Davutoğlu called on Putin to “empathize” with Turkey.
The incident did not take place on the Turkey-Russia border, Davutoğlu said Dec. 8, referring to the Nov. 24 downing of a Russia warplane by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on the Syrian-Turkish border.
“The incident did not take place on the Russia-Syria border either because there is no such border. The incident took place on the Turkey-Syria border and it happened within a framework which directly involves Turkey and Turkey's strategic interests,” Davutoğlu said, while addressing a parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“Turkey has been experiencing various problems on the border with Syria in the last five years. I'm calling on Putin for empathy from here,” he said. “Russian leaders should imagine something like this: if we had bombed places in eastern Ukraine which had kinship relations with Russia, like the kinship relation we have with the Bayırbucak Turkmens, by agreeing to a call by the state of Ukraine by also violating Russian airspace, exactly as Russia claims that it agreed to a call by the state of Syria, I wonder what would Putin think and do” he said.
“The matter which Russia should understand is that the venue is the Turkey-Syria border; those beyond the border are our siblings and protecting their rights is our duty, just like protecting our border is our duty” he said.
Turkey claims the recent Russian bombardments in Syria have not targeted the Islamic State (IS) but the Turkmen minority in the north of the country.
Turkey said it shot down the Russian plane after it violated its airspace despite repeated warnings. The Russian plane crashed in northern Syria and a crew commander, Oleg Peshkov, was killed by Turkmen groups while descending with a parachute. Russia denies the violation claim and has since slapped economic sanctions on Turkey.
Davutoğlu, meanwhile, also said Turkey had discussed possible measures against Russia and would impose sanctions if needed, while underlining that Ankara remained open to talks with Moscow. The possible measures were discussed at a cabinet meeting held on Dec. 7, he said.
The prime minister said his government is ready for all kinds of discussions with Russia but would never be dictated to.