Turkey Has No Plans to Apologize for Shooting Russian Jet Out of the Sky

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Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacts as he attends the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, on November 30, 2015.Photo: JACQUES DEMARTHON

Russian president Vladimir Putin won’t be getting that apology he wanted from top Turkish officials after they ordered the strike on a Russian jet last week, judging from Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s recent remarks.

"No Turkish prime minister or president will apologize … because of doing our duty," Davutoglu told reporters during a gathering of NATO allies in Brussels. Davutoglu didn’t rule out further talks with their former Cold War sparring partner, as long as they were in good faith. "If the Russian side wants to talk, and wants to prevent any future unintentional events like this, we are ready to talk," he added. 

Good faith, thus far, has been lacking on Putin’s end as he has galvanized the home front in the wake of the shooting by calling for widespread economic sanctions, tourism bans, and restrictions on the employment of the 90,000 Turkish nationals working in Russia. The two nations are tightly intertwined trade partners, as Turkey purchases large amounts of agricultural products, such as grain, from Russia. Those shipments have been suspended for now. Additionally, Turkey is one of the largest destinations for Russian natural gas. Energy sanctions could severely affect the Turkish economy. 

The talk of Russian sanctions were decried by President Tayyip Erdogan as “emotional” and “unfitting” in a speech this past Friday. He warned that such tactics were akin to “playing with fire.” 

The charged bromides from Turkish leadership come on the heels of inflammatory allegations that not only was the incident a "stab in the back" as characterized by Putin, but that Turkey also had an unscrupulous motive for downing the Russian jet. "Turkey’s actions are de facto protection of Islamic State," Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said last week. "This is no surprise, considering the information we have about direct financial interest of some Turkish officials relating to the supply of oil products refined by plants controlled by ISIS." Erdogan, unsurprisingly, decried this allegation.