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Turkey Says It Will Not Apologize For Downing Of Russian Jet

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a media conference Monday at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Virginia Mayo
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a media conference Monday at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Saying his country will not apologize for downing a Russian warplane, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu struck a defiant note after meeting with his NATO allies.

The Associated Press reports that Davutoglu said his country was simply defending its airspace last week when two of its F-16s fired at a Russian Sukhoi SU-24.

"No Turkish prime minister or president will apologize ... because of doing our duty," Davutoglu said after a meeting Monday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, according to the AP. "Protection of Turkish airspace, Turkish borders is a national duty, and our army did their job to protect this airspace. But if the Russian side wants to talk, and wants to prevent any future unintentional events like this, we are ready to talk."

Reporting from Moscow, NPR's Corey Flintoff says the incident has chilled relations between the two countries. In response, Russia has announced a series of sanctions. Corey filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Russian officials are announcing the details of Russia's sanctions against Turkey. Russian tourists are being advised not to travel to Turkey, a move that could cost Turkey several billions of dollars a year.

"Turkish construction companies will be banned from bidding for contracts in Russia.

"Some time after the first of the year, Russia will ban many types of agricultural imports and other products from Turkey. Russia's President Vladimir Putin has refused to meet with Turkish President Erdogan during the climate summit in Paris."

The Wall Street Journal reports that Davutoglu called on Russia to reconsider the sanctions to avoid damaging close and long-term economic ties.

The newspaper adds:

"Stoltenberg backed Turkey's right to defend its territory, but repeated his calls for calm and dialogue between Russia and Turkey.

" 'What we saw last week was not the first violation of Turkish airspace by Russian planes,' he said. 'Our focus now is on de-escalating the situation, calming tensions.'

"The Kremlin has so far signaled that nothing short of an apology will suffice before ties can be mended. Ankara, on the other hand, maintains that Moscow forced it to take down the jet by repeatedly violating Turkish airspace during its bombing campaign in Syria since early October.

"Still, Turkey has responded with steps to try to de-escalate the situation, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing 'sadness' numerous times, but refusing to apologize."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.