LEFKOSA (AVRUPA TIMES) Turkey does not need to apologize over the downing of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday.
"We do not need to apologize for an issue over which we are right. The engagement rules are clear and it was our airspace that had been violated," Cavusoglu said during his official visit to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The foreign minister was referring to Tuesday’s incident, when two Turkish F-16 fighter jets on an aerial patrol intercepted an unidentified aircraft within engagement rules when it intruded into Turkish airspace close to the Syrian border. The intruding aircraft was warned about the violation 10 times within five minutes before it was shot down.
He pointed out that Russia had been violating Turkish airspace several times since it began its air attacks in Syria. In early October, Russian warplanes breached Turkish airspace. Back then, Russian officials had apologized and pledged that no such incident would be repeated.
"We have shared them with our Russian counterparts [...] Most recently, our President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] discussed the issue with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin at the G20 summit in Antalya.
"Unfortunately, our planes shot down a plane which did not change its course despite warnings and violation of our airspace.
"Turkey will not tolerate the repeated violation of its airspace. Our planes shot down an unidentified plane only after it ignored our warnings," he said.
Cavusoglu hoped relations between Turkey and Russia will normalize again.
"We do not want to escalate tensions with Russia," Cavusoglu said, adding that Russia and Turkey have significant political and economic relations.
"We want both military and diplomacy channels to remain open," he said.
"Diplomacy will win," he said, adding he hoped to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe scheduled for Dec. 3 and 4 in Belgrade.