Erdogan: No one can slander Turkey over Daesh oil claims
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday no one has the right to “slander” Turkey by accusing it of buying oil from Daesh, and that he would stand down if such allegations were proven to be true.
Erdogan, who was speaking at a university in the Qatari capital, also said he did not want relations with Moscow to worsen further.
Russia accused Erdogan and his family of involvement in illegal oil trading with Daesh terrorists, ratcheting up the heat in a dispute over Ankara’s downing of one of Moscow’s warplanes.
The inflammatory allegations — the latest in a ferocious war of words — came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had agreed to meet his Turkish counterpart for the first high-level face-to-face talks since the incident last week.
The Defense Ministry accusations against Erdogan are the first implicating the Turkish strongman directly, as the Kremlin refuses to let the pressure drop after slapping economic sanctions on Ankara.
“The main consumer of this oil stolen from its legitimate owners Syria and Iraq is Turkey,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told journalists at a packed briefing.
“According to available information, the highest level of the political leadership of the country, president Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business.”
Antonov pointed the finger at the recent appointment of Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak as energy minister and alleged that the president’s son runs one of the country’s main energy companies.
“What a fantastic family business,” he said, claiming that “terrorists” in Syria made some $2 billion each year out of the illegal oil trade.
The ministry officials displayed satellite images which they said showed columns of tanker trucks loading with oil at installations controlled by Daesh in Syria and Iraq, and then crossing the border into Turkey.
While Turkey and Russia continued to wrangle, the body of a pilot killed when the jet was blown out of the sky was buried in his hometown some 360 kilometers south of Moscow.
Local media reported that thousands of mourners flocked to bid farewell to Oleg Peshkov, who the defense ministry said was shot dead from the ground after parachuting out of the jet.
The corpse of the pilot — who has been awarded Russia’s highest honor — was flown back from Turkey after it was taken across the border from Syria and handed over by Ankara.