Turkey Advises Against Travel to Russia – Voice of America
Turkey on Saturday advised its citizens to delay any non-urgent travel to Russia, the latest move in a diplomatic spat over the downing of a Russian warplane.
In a statement, Turkey’s foreign ministry said it issued the travel warning because of unspecified “difficulties” faced by Turkish visitors and residents in Russia.
Russia reacted angrily after Turkish fighter jets shot down the warplane Tuesday near Turkey’s border with Syria, where Moscow is conducting a military campaign.
The dispute is threatening ties between the two countries, which are on opposite sides in the Syrian civil war, and raising fears of a wider international conflict.
Moscow has announced a series of retaliatory measures against Ankara, including restricting tourist travel, suspending military communications, and subjecting food imports to extra scrutiny.
FILE – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his meeting with mukhtars at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 26, 2015.
On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Russia of “playing with fire” by attacking groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “under the pretext” of fighting the Islamic State group, and by “irresponsibly” targeting trucks operating inside Syria for “commercial activities or humanitarian aid.”
Turkey’s state-run news agency and a Turkish relief group reported Wednesday that Russian aircraft attacked a Turkish aid convoy inside Syria near the Turkish border, killing seven people and wounding 10.
In his comments Friday, Erdogan was apparently responding to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who a day earlier, in an apparent reference to Turkey, had said that those who conduct “criminal business” with terrorists and use them “to achieve their political goals” are “playing with fire.”
Erdogan also accused Russia of using the downing of the jet as an excuse to level “unacceptable accusations” against Turkey. He called Russian charges that Turkey was buying oil from the Islamic State group “slander.”
“You must know that we are not as dishonorable as to buy oil from a terrorist organization,” the Turkish president said. “Turkey is buying oil from Russia.”
Still, Erdogan said he wanted to meet with Putin “face to face” Monday on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to the media during his and France’s President Francois Hollande news conference following the talks in Moscow, Russia, Nov. 26, 2015.
Putin has not responded to the Turkish leader’s overtures, with Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov on Friday citing “a lack of readiness from the Turkish side to offer an elementary apology for the incident with the aircraft.”
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu took a more conciliatory tone in an opinion piece published Friday in Britain’s The Times newspaper. “While the measures to defend our territory will remain in place, Turkey will work with Russia and our allies to calm tensions,” he wrote.
Davutoglu said fighting the Islamic State group is the top priority.
Earlier this week, Putin said the downing of the plane was an act of betrayal by a country Russia had thought of as a friendly state. He also said the United States knew the jet’s flight path and should have informed Turkey, its NATO ally.
Turkey said it issued repeated warnings that the plane was in its airspace before shooting it down. Russia, which has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria since September, said the jet did not cross into Turkey.
The plane crashed into a mountainside in a rebel-held area in Syria. Both pilots parachuted out of the burning aircraft after it was struck, but one was found dead in Syria while the second was found safe and unhurt. A Russian soldier was killed in a rescue operation.