ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday his government would act “patiently and not emotionally” before taking any measures in response to Russia’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkey.
Moscow said earlier in the day that it would ban mainly imports of agricultural products from Turkey after the Turkish military downed a Russian warplane on Nov. 24 which Ankara said had breached Turkish airspace while flying missions in Syria.
“Let’s act patiently and not emotionally,” Erdogan told reporters when asked whether Turkey would hit back with its own sanctions. “Let’s let their chips fall as they may, then if we have our own chips, we’ll let those fall.”
Erdogan was speaking in comments broadcast live by CNN Turk television on the sidelines of a climate summit in Paris, where efforts to bring him together with Russian President Vladimir Putin failed.
Turkey was working to ensure ties with Russia, its main energy supplier, do not rupture completely, Erdogan said, describing Moscow as a “strategic partner.”
Asked if he would continue to press for a meeting, he said: “Even if it is just a piece of string remaining ... we don’t want ties to be cut. How Russia will proceed, I cannot know.”
Turkish officials have said the Russian jet violated Turkish airspace and had been warned repeatedly. Moscow says the aircraft was over Syria, where Russia is carrying out an air campaign to support the forces of President Bashar al-Assad in a four-year-old civil war.
Erdogan is among Assad’s most outspoken critics, and Russia’s bombardment of certain opposition groups in Syria has put Ankara and Moscow at odds. Erdogan has said Turkey will not apologise for the downing of the plane.
Erdogan also dismissed as “unacceptable and immoral” Putin’s repeated allegation that Turkey purchases oil from Islamic State and demanded the Russian side show documents to prove the charge.
Reporting by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Richard Balmforth