Davutoglu says Russia is Turkey's 'friend, neighbour'

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday said his government did not want to fuel tensions with "our friend" Russia, a day after Turkey downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 25, 2015, 19:40 PM IST

Ankara: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday said his government did not want to fuel tensions with "our friend" Russia, a day after Turkey downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border.

"We have no intention to strain (ties) with the Russian Federation," Davutoglu told ruling party members in parliament. "Russia is our friend and our neighbour."

Turkey's F-16 jets shot down the Russian plane under its rules of engagement on the Syrian border, prompting an angry response from Moscow, with President Vladimir Putin warning Ankara it would have serious consequences.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled a scheduled visit to Turkey, while Putin called for Russians not to visit the country.

Davutoglu said the plane that violated Turkish airspace was downed as it was seen as a "threat". But he called for a deescalation in relations with its major trade partner Russia.

"We have very strong economic, commercial and cultural bonds with Russia," he said, adding that communication channels with Moscow were wide open.

But he warned that it was Turkey's "natural right" to protect its borders and national security.

"Turkey does not have an eye on any country's soil," he said. "Targeting Russia or any other country is out of the question."