Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed back at claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ankara buys its oil from Da’esh (ISIS).
The exchange took place on the sidelines of the COP 21 global conference on climate change taking place in Paris.
“We have received additional data which unfortunately confirm that this oil, produced in areas controlled by the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist organizations, is transported on an industrial scale to Turkey,” Putin said, according to the Hurriyet Daily News, a Turkey-based newspaper.
“We have all grounds to suspect that the decision to down our plane was motivated by the intention to secure these routes of delivering oil to ports where it is loaded on tankers,” Russia’s TASS news agency also quoted Putin as saying during a news conference on the sidelines of the climate talks.
Speaking to reporters in Paris, Erdogan denied the claims, saying Turkey obtained all its oil and gas imports “through the legal path… We are not dishonest so as to do this kind of exchange with terrorist groups. Everyone needs to know this,” he said. “If evidence of this kind is found, let those who find it present it,” he added, according to TASS.
Erdogan labeled the accusations “slander” and vowed to resign if the claims were in fact proved.
“I will say something very strong here. If such a thing is proved, the nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office,” he was quoted by the state-run Andolu news agency as saying. “I am asking Mr. Putin, would you stay in that office? I say this clearly.”
Nevertheless, Erdogan clearly was also mindful that his nation cannot afford to alienate mighty Russia, and appeared to be working hard to avoid it. In his remarks he described Moscow as a “strategic partner,” adding, “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.”
Ultimately, however, Erdogan said that continued Russian sanctions against his country would be met with those of Turkey – but not yet.
“Let’s act patiently and not emotionally,” he told reporters. “Let’s let their chips fall as they may, then if we have our own chips, we’ll let those fall.”