- Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has said Russian President Vladimir Putin used to call him “brave and bold,” before the two countries' relations soured over Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border on Nov. 24.
“Putin's statements about me have always been about my bravery and boldness ... He also had many words on my honest statesmanship. When he meets with [former Italian Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi and [former German Chancellor Gerhard] Schröder, his words have always been in that direction,” Erdoğan told reporters en route to Qatar after the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris.
He also stated that “all countries” acknowledged Turkey to be right over the downed jet incident.
The Turkish president stressed that “problems should be solved diplomatically” while also touching on his previous claim that Turkey would have “taken a different approach if it had known the jet was Russian.”
“What I meant was that the form of the warning would have been different and the warning period would have been prolonged. After recent incidents in the region, the sensitivity of the rules of engagement has increased. We must be vigilant against airspace violations from Syria. In this sensitive environment there was a jet with unknown nationality that disregarded warnings” he said.
“Russia's attitude in the aftermath of this incident has not been very diplomatic. It has been sensational. It was also not nice to mention sanctions immediately after the incident” Erdoğan said.
“Previously, airspace violations have been discussed with Russia at all levels. This was not the first such violation. We have documents and there are hundreds of violations. A violation in the Black Sea last year lasted 15 minutes. When we warned, they said ‘the pilots don't speak English well and there is a misunderstanding.' The same problems were also faced in the first violation in Syria … These incidents sadden us strategically,” he added.