Ankara has ruled out offering an apology to Moscow over Turkey's downing of a Russian jet near the Syrian border, repeating its claim that the move had been defensive in nature.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday that Russia is not entitled to ask Turkey for an apology over the latter’s downing of a Su-24M fighter jet on November 24.
A Russian pilot and a rescue staff were killed by Syrian militants whom Russia suspects of having links to Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack a 'treacherous stab in the back by accomplices of terrorism' and ordered economic sanctions on Turkey which includes bans on some goods and services. Russian defense ministry has also suspended military ties with Turkey.
“No country can ask us to apologize [for the incident] because [we were] doing our job … Our action was a defensive action,” said Davutoglu after a meeting in Brussels with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The premier of the NATO member state again repeated Ankara’s official stance regarding the incident, saying the Russian fighter jet had violated Turkey’s airspace, a claim denied by the Moscow.
“Our army did their job in protecting our border,” he said, adding that downing of the warplane should be viewed as “more of an issue of dignity” for Turkey.
Stoltenberg also defended the downing, saying Turkey has the right to defend its airspace in the face of any violation. NATO is also at odds with Russia over the crisis in east Ukraine and Turkey’s downing of the Russian jet has sparked new tensions between the powerful body and Moscow.
Davutoglu, however, regretted that Russia has decided to impose broad economic sanctions on Turkey over the incident, urging Moscow to revise the decision.
He said the Turkish resort town of Antalya is “like a second home” to many Russian holidaymakers, and criticized Moscow’s ban on Turkey’s lucrative tourism business with the Russians.
“We hope Russia will reconsider these measures, which will be against our common interests,” Davutoglu said.