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Moscow won't forgive Turkey’s "aiding and abetting terrorists" — foreign minister

The Russian top diplomat stressed that anti-terrorism efforts, as well as Syrian settlement are of principal importance for Russia
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Ilya Pitalev/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Ilya Pitalev/TASS

MOSCOW, February 4. /TASS/. Moscow will not forgive Turkey’s aiding and abetting terrorists but will stay friendly towards the Turkish people, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Italy’s Limes magazine.

"We will not forgive this aiding and abetting terrorists," he said. "But we have never put an equal mark between some of the current ruling establishment that bear direct responsibility for the death of our servicemens in Syria, and our old and reliable friends among the Turkish people."

The Russian top diplomat stressed that anti-terrorism efforts, as well as Syrian settlement are of principal importance for Russia. "That is why the attack of the Turkish air force on the Russian bomber cannot change our approaches," he said. "If Turkey’s provocation was meant to achieve this goal, its inventors have obviously failed."

According to the Russian diplomat, after Turkey’s attack on the Russian Su-24 bomber in November a moment of truth arrived in the fight against terrorism.

"Ankara’s move was an unprecedented challenge for the Russian Federation," Lavrov said. "It is evident that such actions could not but impact the Russian-Turkish relations, and the confidence for Turkey as a partner has been seriously shattered," Lavrov said.

As a result, the cooperation between Russia and Turkey has been suspended in many areas despite great efforts to develop ties in the recent years, Lavrov said, stressing: "This was not our choice."

"So far we have heard neither apologies of the Turkish leadership nor showing readiness to somehow compensate the consequences of the act, nor an intention to punish those guilty in the right way," he said.

"On the contrary, Ankara claims that the Turkish side was right and protected the sovereignty that had been allegedly violated," Lavrov said, adding that the statements of Turkish politicians on "regrets" are incompatible with the seriousness of what has happened.

Russia has repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing terrorist threats in Turkey and Ankara’s unpreparedness to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, Lavrov reminded.

In particular, despite Moscow’s requests Ankara avoided cooperation in detaining and handing over to Russia’s law enforcement bodies the Russian citizens heading to the Middle East and North Africa to join the terrorist and extremist groups in the region, he said.

After the incident on November 24, 2015 when the Turkish Air Force downed a Russian Su-24 aircraft over Syria "a moment of truth has come" for all the foreign actors who have influence on the events in Syria, he stressed.

"We need to be clear either we are against terror and jointly combat this evil or for someone the statements adopted in Vienna at two meetings of the International Syria Support Group are nonbinding declarations and camouflage covering the selfish geopolitical goals in Syria and secret ties with terrorists including the supplies of the stolen oil and precious artifacts," he said.