Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: Al Gore 'The modern climate movement was launched here'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Manchester, United

Read more

ENCORE!

TV series 'Top of the Lake: China Girl' screened at Cannes

Read more

FOCUS

A lifeline for women facing domestic violence in Pakistan

Read more

ACCESS ASIA

Afghanistan's new TV channel by and for women

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Former minister accused of role in murder of two UN investigators in DR Congo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Murder in Manchester': Press reacts to Arena terror attack

Read more

ENCORE!

Cannes 2017: Naomi Campbell hosts 'Fashion For Relief'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump's visit to Israel in key images

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

An interview with a French or international personality from the world of economics, politics, culture or diplomacy. Every Wednesday at 4.45 pm Paris time and Saturday at 7.45 am.

Latest update : 2015-12-03

‘Putin has not returned my call’, Erdogan tells FRANCE 24

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an exclusive interview Thursday with FRANCE 24, said his country “does not want tensions with Russia” after Turkish planes downed a Russian fighter near the Syrian border.

Click on the player above to watch the full interview.

Erdogan, speaking to FRANCE 24’s Marc Perelman in the Turkish capital, Ankara, struck a conciliatory tone but declined to apologise for Tuesday's incident, which has further heightened tensions in the conflict-ridden region.

He restated Turkey’s stance that the Russian plane “ignored repeated warnings over five minutes” to leave Turkish airspace and had failed to identify itself.

“Had we known it was a Russian plane we may have acted differently,” he said. “But our pilots know the rules of engagement and have to do their duty to protect Turkish airspace”.

The Turkish leader said he had personally told Russian President Vladimir Putin at a G20 meeting to end Russian incursions into Turkey’s airspace, warning that such incidents were likely to occur.

He added: “No sovereign state can be expected to give up its right to protect [its airspace]”.

Russian officials have reacted furiously to the plane’s downing on Tuesday, which Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described as a “planned provocation”.

The Russian government said Thursday it was preparing a raft of retaliatory economic measures and urged all Russian nationals to leave Turkey.

Moscow disputes Turkish claims that the Russian plane entered Turkish airspace, and has demanded a formal apology.

Erdogan said Turkey had communicated all military data on the incident to Russian military authorities, adding that “data provided by our NATO allies confirm our own”.

Sidestepping questions about whether he planned to apologise, the Turkish leader said Russia had failed to communicate its own data and that Putin had ignored his phone calls.

“We need to talk about what happened [...], but Putin has not returned my call,” he said.

‘Slander’

Ankara and Moscow are on opposing sides in the four-year Syrian conflict, with Turkey bitterly opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Russia is one of his last remaining allies.

The Turkish president said he was irked by Russian claims that Turkey had helped finance the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group by purchasing its oil, describing the allegations as “slander”.

He stated that Ankara bought most of its fuel from Russia.

Erdogan said a joint military operation with the US was underway to secure the Syrian border and ensure militants and supplies do not reach the IS group.

Rejecting allegations of indulgence towards the jihadist outfit, he said it was Russia – not Turkey – that was failing to strike the IS jihadists.

“Russia and Iran back Assad, but are they fighting Daesh? The answer is ‘no’,” he said, referring to the Islamist group by a derogatory Arabic term.

He also warned Turkey’s Western allies against arming Kurdish militant groups such as the PKK and the Syria-based YPG, which have done most of the fighting against the IS extremists on the ground but are also Turkey’s hereditary foes.

“We have to fight all terrorist groups, and not arm one to fight another,” he said.

On the vexed question of Syrian refugees crossing Turkey’s border with the European Union, Erdogan noted that his country had taken in “2.5 million refugees whereas Europe is panicking with 300,000”.

He restated his aim to establish a no-fly zone in northern Syria to ensure that those displaced by the conflict don’t have to leave their country.

Referring to the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, he also called for greater cooperation between Western and Turkish intelligence agencies to ensure terrorists do not infiltrate refugee groups.

By FRANCE 24

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-05-20 Emmanuel Macron

France's new president: Can Macron keep spirit of hope alive?

France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, has been described as the torchbearer of a new politics - a politics led from the centre, in which the traditional parties of the "right"...

Read more

2017-05-17 Europe

'Angela Merkel owes France's Macron a debt of gratitude'

Our guest Joseph Joffe is the publisher-editor of Die Zeit, a major German weekly. He's also a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he teaches...

Read more

2017-05-11 Emmanuel Macron

French ambassador to US discusses Trump, Macron presidencies

With President-elect Emmanuel Macron poised to take power on Sunday in Paris, French Ambassador to the US Gérard Araud, who served as diplomatic advisor to the candidate, sat...

Read more

2017-05-03 Yemen

UN human rights chief: 'Commitments to rights norms are being dismantled'

The UN's top human rights official tells FRANCE 24 he sees a global trend toward the suppression of dissent. "By using sweeping powers of arrest under states of emergency, you...

Read more

2017-05-02 Emmanuel Macron

Terror attacks in France: A gift to Marine Le Pen?

The French presidential run-off on May 7 has been described as the most important in decades. The issues of immigration and the compatibility of Islam with French cultural values...

Read more