Turkey must accept responsibility for downed jet to restore relations – top Russian senator

Sukhoi Su-27 fighter aircraft before departing for its permanent base in Russia from Khmeimim Air Base in Syria. © Vadim Grishankin
Russian is ready to resume normal relations with Turkey on condition that Ankara takes the blame for the November downing of the Russian combat jet on the anti-terrorist mission in Syria, Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko has said.

Russia-Turkey relations currently could be much better, to put it softly,” Matviyenko, whose role chairing Russia’s upper house of parliament makes her one of the country’s most influential officials, told RIA Novosti. “As you know, Russia is not to blame for this cold spell. We are ready to unfreeze relations on condition that the Turkish authorities assume responsibility for the shooting down of the Russian aircraft over Syrian territory.”

She added: “However, so far the Turkish side has not even given hints that this might happen.”

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Russia’s top senator also said that Turkey was the only country that continues to block the Kurds from participating in the Syrian peace talks in Geneva. She said that such a position was against the UN resolution in support of the Syrian settlement and also obstructed the consolidation of all forces opposing international terrorism.

Matviyenko also accused the Turkish side of attempts to disrupt the Syria talks, adding that the reasons behind such behavior must be in the fact that the settlement is hurting the criminal oil business conducted between terrorists from the Islamic State group (IS, previously known as ISIS/ISIL) and “some people” in Turkey.

Speaking of possible reasons for Ankara’s behavior, Matviyenko suggested that a some current politicians in Turkey could be too consumed by the thoughts of the past grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. “But modern responsible politicians must remember the history of their country in all its wholeness, not just some moments that cause nostalgia. Otherwise they would be bound to repeat their mistakes,” she said.

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Matviyenko also told reporters that in her view Western nations attempted to diminish or completely silence the decisive role that Russia had played in the settlement of the Syrian crisis. “I am not prone to excessive patriotism or pathos, but I am glad that we have all reasons to say that our participation in the events in Syria and around it have yet again proved Russia’s role as a world power without which no significant problem can be solved,” she said.

Matviyenko added that many foreign parliamentarians also hold the opinion that it was Russia’s participation in the conflict that played a key role in ending the war and switching to the peace process. “This understanding strengthens, as is the understanding of the fact that all attempts to isolate Russia from the international community and hurt our national interests and obstruct the development of our country have failed,” she said.

Russia-Turkey relations have plunged to the worst in decades after the Turkish Air Force attacked and downed the Russian Su-24 aircraft that was taking part in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. Soon after this attack, Russia imposed a temporary ban on imports of certain Turkish products, curtailing the Russian operations of a number of Turkish organizations, and a ban on Russian employers hiring Turkish nationals.

Russian Communist Party MPs have proposed to denounce the 1921 friendship treaty with Turkey, but Moscow abstained from this step as it could potentially cause problematic border demarcations in the Transcaucasia region.

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