Turkey received Russian pilot’s body, says PM

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ANKARA

Turkey says it has received the body of a pilot from the Russian SU-24 shot down earlier this week.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara on Sunday that the remains had been received on Saturday night.

“The pilot, who lost his life during [Tuesday’s] airspace violation, was delivered to us last night at 01:45 [11:45 GMT],” Davutoglu said in Ankara, speaking ahead of his departure for a high-level EU meeting in Brussels.

“The body will be delivered to Russia,” he added.

The body of Russian pilot was sent to the Turkish capital Ankara from Hatay on Sunday afternoon. An Anadolu Agency reporter in Hatay wrote that, according to local sources, a member of the Orthodox clergy in the area performed a religious ceremony for the dead man last night.

Turkey’s government said on Tuesday that its F-16s shot down the Russian SU-24 after several warnings against its violation of Turkish airspace over the southern province of Hatay.

One of the pilots of the SU-24 died in the incident while the other was rescued by Russian special forces in Syria.

Davutoglu said that attempts to pin the blame on Turkey after the episode were “invalid” in terms of international law.

“The latest statements from Russia are not acceptable in terms of neighboring countries’ relations,” he said.

Saying that the Turkish military did what was necessary in a “legitimate” way, Davutoglu clarified that Tuesday’s actions were not directed specifically at Russia.

Diyarbakir shootings

Speaking on yesterday’s killing of the president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association, Tahir Elci, and two police officers, Davutoglu said:

“The separatist terrorist organization was responsible for all those incidents,” he said.

‘Separatist terrorist organization’ is widely understood as being a reference to the PKK.

“Our fight against them will continue in a decisive way,” Davutoglu added.

The prime minister also said a ballistics report had revealed that the firearm which was found near Elci’s body was the same weapon which was used to kill the first police officer who died in Saturday’s incident.

Davutoglu previously told reporters on Saturday that two possible scenarios were being looked into in relation to Elci’s killing.

The first possibility, he said, was that the attack was an “assassination attempt against Tahir Elci”. The second scenario is that Elci was caught in the crossfire, Davutoglu said.

Turkey-EU relations

Speaking on Sunday’s meeting between Turkey and the 28-country bloc, Davutoglu said that the summit would add great momentum to Turkey-EU relations.

“A summit at this level is taking place for the first time in 11 years, since 2004,” Davutoglu added.

He said that the summit was important to define a “common attitude” on both regional and global developments.

Describing today’s meeting as a “turning point in terms of developing a common attitude”, Davutoglu said the summit was important to deal with both the refugee and Syria crises.

As part of a refugee action plan, the EU has offered Turkey €3 billion ($3.1 billion) in funding to meet the needs of Syrian refugees hosted in the country.

Turkey hosts more than two million Syrian refugees.

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