Ankara, Oct 5 () - Russia must not escalate tension in Syria after Russian airplanes violated Turkish airspace, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said, hours before NATO was set to hold a meeting to discuss developments in Syria.
“Let me put it bluntly: Turkey’s rules of engagement are valid for Syria’s, Russia’s or another country’s warplanes. The Turkish Armed Forces have been issued with open instructions. Even if it’s a flying bird, whoever violates Turkish airspace will be subject to the necessary actions” Davutoğlu told Habertürk TV in an interview on Oct. 5.
Turkey adopted strict rules of engagements in 2012 after a F4 jet fighter was downed by Syria, announcing that it would consider any naval, air or land forces vehicle approaching Turkish territory from Syria as a threat.
Davutoğlu said Turkey had warned Russia to prevent a repetition of such violations, stressing that Russian authorities had assured Turkey that they would not be repeated and that the Oct. 3 violation was unintentional.
“I just spoke with our chief of General Staff. We have given necessary instructions to our foreign minister. Diplomatic traffic has begun. Our position is very clear, we’ll warn any country that violates our borders in a friendly way. Russia is our friend and neighbor. There is no tension between Turkey and Russia in this sense. The issue of Syria is not a Turkish-Russian crisis” he said.
NATO meets to discuss Syria
Davutoğlu said NATO’s Council would meet on Oct. 5 to discuss the developments inside Syria, but did not give details. Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu is also in Brussels to meet NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. One of the main issues the alliance will discuss will be Russia’s military engagement in Syria.
Davutoğlu said there was evidence proving that Russian warplanes were bombing moderate Syrian opposition forces although Moscow does not accept this claim. “Turkey and Russia have deep economic and political ties, we hope Russia will move carefully,” Davutoğlu added.