Turkey won’t retaliate against Russia’s sanctions
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, and stressed that he does not want any further harm to relations with Moscow.
On Wednesday, Russia also accused Erdogan and his family of being involved in oil trade with ISIS.
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.”
Turkey may cut Russian LPG imports
However, two sources told Reuters that Turkey is preparing to cut imports of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Russia by a quarter next year in the first of a retaliatory move by the Turkish side.
Russia imposed sanctions on some Turkish goods after Turkey shot down a Russian military jet on Nov. 24, saying it had violated its airspace. Russia refutes that, saying the plane was in Syrian air space.
“Turkish firms are not simply worried about a reduction in LPG deliveries from Russia because of the current (political) situation they are already preparing for this,” one trader who works in the LPG market told Reuters.
“It may be more expensive, but the process of how to ensure future deliveries from elsewhere is being worked out. We are not just talking about deliveries from Algeria, but from the United States as well.”
Lavrov agrees to meet with Turk counterpart
Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that he would agree to meet with his Turkish counterpart this week to hear Turkey’s explanations on the downing of a Russian air force jet.
Sergey Lavrov said he will meet Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe meeting of foreign ministers in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.
“We will meet with the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, we will hear what he has to say,” Lavrov said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart. He added that Turkey had consistently asked to arrange such a meeting.
Lavrov said he spoke to Cavusoglu by telephone the day after the Russian aircraft was shot down, but heard only what Turkey had already stated publicly and “just some excuses.”
The meeting could offer a way to de-escalate a growing crisis between Russia and Turkey.