Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he wanted to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris after the downing of a Russian warplane escalated tensions between the two countries.
“I would like to meet him face to face on Monday,” Erdogan said after days of tit-for-tat accusations over the incident that has severely damaged ties.
Turkey says the Russian plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings but Russia insists it did not cross the border and accused Ankara of a “planned provocation”.
“It was an automatic response to the air space violation,” Erdogan said. “Turkey did not deliberately down the Russian warplane.”
He also described Putin’s criticism of Ankara over the incident as “unacceptable”.
“Russia is obliged to prove its allegations, otherwise it will be considered a liar because of those grave and unfair accusations targeting Turkey.”
Erdogan said it was not the first time Russian jets had breached Turkish air space and that he had warned Putin about “ugly incidents” after two incursions in October.
The Turkish President attacked Russia’s policy in Syria after it launched air strikes in September, accusing the Kremlin of backing the regime of “murderer” President Bashar al-Assad.
He claimed that the Russian air raids did not target the Islamic State group.
“We are not blind to (Russian) cunning... using the plane incident as a pretext” to prop up the Assad regime.
Erdogan said backing the regime in Damascus after more than four years of war that has killed 250,000 people was like “playing with fire”.
The Turkish strongman also struck back at Russian “slander” that Turkey was buying oil from the IS group.
“You must know that we are not as dishonourable as to buy oil from a terrorist organisation,” he said. “Turkey is buying oil from Russia.”
Erdogan labelled attempts to link his country with IS jihadists as “disrespectful” to Turkey.