Thursday 22 February 2018

Turkey cannot be brought to its knees by Russia, says PM Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu again said Turkey would not apologise for 'defending its borders'
Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu again said Turkey would not apologise for 'defending its borders'

Turkey's prime minister has said his country cannot be "brought to its knees" by Russian economic sanctions imposed in response to his country's downing of a Russian warplane.

Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking in Baku, Azerbaijan, again defended Turkey's action and said Ankara would not apologise for "defending its borders".

Mr Davutoglu again insisted Turkey did not know the nationality of the plane when it brought it down inside Turkish air space.

He suggested for the first time, however, that the plane was brought down because Turkey could not "morally" allow the plane to trespass on Turkish territory before bombing Turkmen areas in Syria.

Turkey said it shot down the plane after it violated its airspace despite repeated warnings.

Russia denies the claim and has since slapped economic sanctions on Turkey.

"No one can blame Turkey, no one can expect an apology from Turkey," Mr Davutoglu said in the speech, which was televised on Turkish television. "We would not apologise for defending our borders."

"Those who believe that economic sanctions against an honourable nation like Turkey can bring it to its knees will be mistaken."

The incident, the first time a Nato country has downed a Russian plane in more than half a century, sparked a bitter falling out between the two nations, which had developed robust economic ties.

Russia has retaliated by deploying long-range air defence missile systems to its base in Syria, 30 miles south of the border with Turkey. As well as economic sanctions on Turkey, Moscow has scrapped talks on building a pipeline to export Russian natural gas to Europe.

Moscow says its warplanes have been targeting terrorist groups near Syria's border with Turkey, while Ankara says the Russian air strikes have been aimed at moderate militant groups made of ethnic Turks who oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. The militants shot and killed the downed plane's pilot while he was descending on a parachute and also killed a Russian marine involved in rescuing the co-pilot.

"Neither our conscience, nor our history, nor our morals could have allowed (the plane) to bomb innocent people by violating (our border)," Mr Davutoglu said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused Turkey of a "treacherous war crime" and has vowed to make Turkey "feel sorry" for its actions.

Mr Davutoglu said the sanctions would be detrimental to both sides. He again urged Russia to be open to dialogue so the two countries can resolve the issue diplomatically.

Press Association

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