Erdoğan Warns Russia Against Losing Turkey’s Friendship

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his party members at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey,  Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. Erdogan said for the first time that Syria's president must step down over the country's brutal crackdown on dissent, ratcheting up the pressure on the increasingly isolated Bashar Assad. In his harshest words yet,  Ergodan reminded Assad of the bloody end of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as well as past dictators, including Adolf Hitler.(ddp images/AP Photo)Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has 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,” Erdoğan 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, Erdoğan 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 over the weekend during Moscow’s bombing campaign in Syria aimed at bolstering the al-Assad regime.

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

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

The NATO allies said Oct. 5 that they “strongly protested” the violations by Russia and noted the “extreme danger of such irresponsible behavior.”

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

One day earlier, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also warned Russia about incursions into Turkish airspace.

“Let me put it bluntly: Turkey’s rules of engagement are valid for Syria’s, Russia’s or another country’s warplanes. The Turkish Armed Forces have been issued with open instructions. Even if it’s a flying bird, whoever violates Turkish airspace will be subject to the necessary actions,” Davutoğlu told Habertürk TV.

“Turkey and Russia have deep economic and political ties, we hope Russia will move carefully,” Davutoğlu added.

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