Ender Duruel / Brussels, Oct 6 () - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Ankara cannot accept Russian airstrikes in Syria, warning Moscow that it could “lose Turkey.”
“NATO has issued a stern ultimatum. We cannot endure it. Some steps that we do not desire are being taken. It is not suitable for Turkey to accept them. This is also beyond the principles of NATO” Erdoğan said during a joint press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Oct. 6.
“Our [good] relations with Russia are obvious. But they would lose us. If Russia loses Turkey, it would lose a lot” Erdoğan added, urging the international community to move for the establishment of security zones in northern Syria to counter the refugee crisis.
Turkey, a NATO member with its second biggest army, scrambled two F-16 jets on Oct. 3 after a Russian aircraft crossed into its airspace over its southern province of Hatay.
The U.S. and its NATO allies denounced Russia for the Oct. 3 incursion and Ankara threatened to respond if provoked again, raising the prospect of direct confrontation between the Cold War enemies.
A NATO statement first revealed that Russian warplanes violated Turkish airspace for the second time on Oct. 4, following the first violation on Oct. 3, but Turkish officials had yet to confirm the NATO statement on the record.