Erdogan warns Russia against losing Turkey's friendship

AFP , Tuesday 6 Oct 2015

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan poses with Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders ahead of a meeting at Val Duchesse castle in Brussels, Belgium October 6, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned Russia against losing Ankara's friendship, after Russian warplanes twice violated its airspace near the Syrian border.

"If Russia loses a friend like Turkey with whom it has a lot of cooperation it is going to lose a lot of things. It needs to know this," Erdogan said in Belgium at a press conference alongside Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel broadcast on Turkish television.

In his toughest remarks yet against Russia in the current crisis, Erdogan accused Moscow and its ally Iran of working to maintain the "state terror" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

His comments came after Russian warplanes twice violated Turkish airspace at the weekend during Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria aimed at bolstering the Assad regime.

"It is of course not possible to remain patient about this," said Erdogan, referring to the incursions into Turkish air space.

Erdogan, whose country is NATO's only majority Muslim member, applauded the reaction of the alliance to Russia's actions.

The NATO allies said Monday they "strongly protest" the violations by Russia and noted the "extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour."

"An attack on Turkey is an attack on NATO, this needs to be known," said Erdogan, referring to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty that states an attack on one ally is an attack on them all.

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