ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed Turkey would not retaliate against Russia’s “emotional” sanctions imposed after the disputed downing of a Russian war plane.
Russia has halted the sale of tours to Turkey – a key tourist destination – and is set to ban the import of Turkish fruit and vegetables as well as threatening other measures.
“(Russia) is our strategic partner, we will continue to provide them with products including food,” Erdogan said in an interview with Turkish reporters on board his presidential plane published in newspapers.
Erdogan said the Russian actions were not in line with “state dignity”.
“Turkey in this regard retains its nobility. We are not using the same language as them… We are expecting them to change their language,” Erdogan said, accusing Moscow of reacting to the incident in an “emotional” way.
Erdogan said there was “no question” of Turkey retaliating against Russian citizens living in the country. “Reciprocity is something that must be done within the limits of the law.”
Russia supplies Turkey with more than half of its natural gas supplies but Erdogan said he was not troubled by the risk of Russia cutting down exports.
“We have not lived with natural gas all our lives… this nation is accustomed to hardship,” said Erdogan, emphasising that Turkey had suppliers other than Russia.
Erdogan also said Russian President Vladimir Putin had in the past spoken of the Turkish president’s “courage”.
“He (Putin) has (said) many words about me as an honest head of state.”
The shooting down by Turkish fighter jets of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border on November 24 has plunged relations between Moscow and Ankara into their biggest crisis since the Cold War.
Turkey claims the plane was in its airspace and ignored repeated warnings but Russia insists it never crossed the border from Syria.
Turkish leaders have in recent days shown signs of seeking to limit the damage to ties. However Putin snubbed a request from Erdogan to meet him on the sidelines of the UN climate conference near Paris this week.