Erdogan spokesman says Turkey-Russia ties will survive

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Ankara-Moscow relations are strong enough to overcome the “short-term turbulence” created by the downing of a Russian jet fighter according to Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin.

Writing in Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper on Saturday, Kalin stated: “The incident has created short-term turbulence in Turkish-Russian relations but will not derail them.”

“The relationship has enough depth and political-economic capital to overcome this,” he added.

Kalin claimed that the downing of the plane was not a “hostile act towards Russia” as the identity of the warplane was established after the shooting.

Despite what Kalin described as “major differences over the Syrian conflict” with Moscow, “Turkey has not targeted any Russian interests and has no intention of doing so,” the official added.

He quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying to France24 news channel on Thursday that “had we known it was a Russian plane, we may have acted differently”.

“But this does not change the fact that as a NATO member, Turkey has the right to defend its land and airspace against any violations. Turkish airspace is also NATO airspace,” Kalin wrote.

Erdogan’s spokesman also touched on claims that Turkey supports Daesh and buys oil from the extremist group, calling the accusations “part of a smear campaign that has no foundation”.

“Those who have made such claims have yet to produce a single piece of concrete evidence. Instead, they narrate anecdotal stories with references to unnamed persons and unspecified locations.”

“But what we know for sure is the fact that both the U.S. and the EU have sanctioned key people for buying oil from Daesh on behalf of the [Bashar] Assad regime.”

“They include Syrian businessman George Haswani, Mudalal Khuri, a Syrian banker, and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a wealthy Russian businessman and the president of the World Chess Federation,” he said.

‘Saving Assad would only strengthen Daesh’

Kalin said it was important to focus on conducting an effective fight against Daesh and bring about a fair and reasonable political transition in Syria.

“The Russian-Iranian plan to save the Assad regime will only strengthen the hands of Daesh and other terrorists. Bombing moderate Syrian opposition groups help only the two criminals-in-chief of the Syrian war: the Assad regime and Daesh.”

“The world must be rid of these two evils at the same time,” he said.

‘Russia targets moderate Syrian opposition, not Daesh’

As for Russia’s military actions in the Turkmen mountain regions near the Turkish-Syrian border, Kalin said there were no Daesh groups in these areas.

Russian jets were “bombing moderate opposition groups to help the Assad regime move towards Jisr al-Shughur and Idlib, currently under opposition control.”

“This is a wrong-headed strategy as it will not help the fight against Daesh. As a matter of fact, 90 percent of the Russian attacks so far have targeted moderate Syrian opposition groups rather than Daesh.”

“If Russia is serious about eliminating Daesh, it should stop bombing anti-Daesh Syrian groups and help the political transition process that will bring an end both to the Assad regime and Daesh terrorism,” he said.

The full article may be seen at http://www.dailysabah.com/columns/ibrahim-kalin/2015/11/28/syria-war-and-turkish-russian-relations.

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