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Lawmaker: RF not to go back to visa-free travel with Turkey if its help to IS continues

November 28, 2015, 0:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"We must take into consideration the fact that Turkey serves as a transit territory for terrorists," said Chairman of the State Duma committee for international affairs

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MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. Russia will not get back to a visa-free agreement with Turkey if that country will continue to provide assistance to the Islamic State terrorist group (outlawed in Russia) and to lead bilateral relations into a gridlock, Chairman of the State Duma (parliamentary lower house) committee for international affairs Aleksey Pushkov told reporters on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Syrian counterpart Wallid Muallem that the Russian leadership had approved a decision to suspend the current visa-free agreement with Turley starting from January 1, 2016.

Two factors

Two conditions will influence the deadline for this step adopted by Russia, Pushkov said calling the condition of the Russian-Turkish relations as the main factor.

"Given Turkey continues to lead the bilateral relations into the gridlock and continues its de-facto assistance to ISIS militants (former name of the Islamic State), fails to take under control their movements within Turkey, continues to supply them with everything necessary and to support their activities inside Syria, we will not be able to re-introduce the visa-free travel agreement," he said.

Besides, Moscow’s position on the issue will depend on successes of those who are battling and will be battling IS, he went on to say.

"The Islamic State should be weakened seriously and squeezed from the occupied territories and it should be deprived of the consolidated basis it possesses in the form of 40% of Iraq’s land and 30% of Syria’s land. I think this will somehow ease a threat of Islamic gunmen’s larger-scale activities."

"The terrorist threat would be easier to counteract if the ISIS headquarters are smashed," the lawmaker said.

Suspicious people should be shut out

The Russian lawmaker believes that the suspension of visa-free travel to Turkey "reflects a sharp deterioration in relations the Turkish side should be blamed for."

"We must take into consideration the fact that Turkey serves as a transit territory for terrorists," Pushkov said. "And it includes not only transit of people but also of weapons and transport moving towards IS with arms and other required materials."

Russia realises well that "as Turkey serves as a zone for ISIS militants’ free movements, who cross the border both ways very easily, it cannot be ruled out that some of those gunmen may be sent to Russia to prepare terrorist acts inside Russia."

"I think that the introduction of visas will definitely allow us to pull aside these suspicious people as visa-free travel is a wide open gateway since everyone comes upon showing their passport and it is almost impossible to count them out or trace."

Europe introduces similar measures

Pushkov has recalled in this context that France imposed border controls and the European Union is considering to close external EU borders.

"It is linked to the terrorist threat and terror attacks in Paris," he said noting that Russia "has been taking steps mirroring the reality which means that our relations with Turkey have soured bitterly and that the Turkish leadership is not eager to admit its guilt and instead of bringing apologies has come forward making some weird assertions that they ‘did not know’ it was a Russian plane or if it happens again Turkey will repeat its actions," he said.

"Actually, they have come forward with additional threats against us and it reflects the fact that Turkey does nothing to cut short this constant human transit between its territory and the territory of Islamic State," the lawmaker said. "This could not be left without an answer."

Downing of the Russian warplane by Turkey

An F-16 fighter jet from the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24M bomber on Tuesday. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish air space in the area of the border with Syria.

However, Russia’s Defence Ministry has said the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory and "there was no violation of the Turkish air space."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the attack on the bomber will have "serious consequences" for the Russian-Turkish relations. According to Putin, the Turkish Air Force’s attack on the Russian combat plane that took part in the operation against terrorists in Syria and posed no threat to Turkey is a "stab in Russia’s back."

The crew of the Su-24M bomber managed to eject but one of the pilots was killed by gunfire from the ground. The second pilot was rescued and taken to the Russian air base. The rescue operation involved two Mi-8 helicopters. One of the helicopters came under fire and made a crash landing and a contract soldier was killed. The helicopter’s other personnel were evacuated to a safe place. The Mi-8 helicopter damaged by gunfire was subsequently destroyed by mortar fire from the territory controlled by militants.

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