Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday called on Russia to re-establish dialogue channels instead of making “baseless accusations” of an alleged oil trade between Ankara and Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
“We should sit at the table and discuss what to do instead of making baseless accusations,” Davutoglu told reporters at Ankara airport before leaving for a visit to the Turkey-backed breakaway region of northern Cyprus.
The downing of a Russian warplane last week by Turkish F-16 jets for allegedly violating Turkish air space on the Syrian border sparked tensions between Turkey and Russia, until now major trade partners.
Russian President Vladimir Putin snubbed a request by Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet on the sidelines of a UN climate conference near Paris on Monday.
Instead, the Russian strongman used his news conference to accuse Ankara of importing oil from IS militants in Syria. “Russian authorities should know it was not Turkish jets that violated Russian air space,” Davutoglu responded.
“When there is a war taking place on our doorstep and refugees are pouring into Turkey it would not be responsible behaviour to ignore air space incursions,” he said.
“It is not possible to conceal air space violations through baseless accusations targeting Turkey like (allegations of) oil purchases from Daesh,” he added, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group.
Erdogan late Monday had also angrily rounded on Putin over the comments, saying that he was ready to resign if any oil trade between Turkey and IS was proven.
“A claim is made through evidence. If there’s such evidence, then put it on the table and we will look,” said Erdogan, quoted by Turkish media from Paris.
“We have said time and time again that we do not see it right for two countries that reached a point which felt like a strategic partnership to make such emotional statements.”