Turkey has denied the allegations that it mistreated passengers on board a Syrian aircraft suspected of carrying military equipments. Speaking to euronews journalist Nezahat Sevim, Foreign Ministry spokesman Selçuk Ünal emphasized that the passengers were treated with respect.
Russia and Syria accused Ankara of endangering and mistreating passengers. An engineer who was on board claims he was roughed up by Turkish security staff. What is Turkey’s respons to the allegations?
First of all I would like to say that the Syrian aircraft bound for Damascus was forced to land in Ankara upon intelligence that we received. All the passengers on board were treated with respect. Their needs were met. They were told to leave the plane if they want. Both passengers and the cabin crew were treated with respect.
Every country has the right to intercept any aircraft deemed to be carrying illegal materials, for security checks. Allegations that the passengers were mistreated and their lives were put in danger are baseless.
A diplomatic note was delivered to Syria from Turkish Foreign Ministry. What was the reason, can you tell us more about that?
It’s all about carrying military equipment using a passenger plane travelling from Moscow to Damascus. This is a violation of our national and international regulations. We informed the Syrian consulate in Istanbul and told them that what they have done is not acceptable to us.
Have you got in touch with NATO over this issue? What is the reaction?
We haven’t got in touch with NATO over it. But we informed our international allies and partners about the violations. And we make our stance clear to everyone. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu has held talks with the Russian Ambassador to Turkey. This topic was also discussed and the undersecretary also informed the ambassador about this issue. It was decided that the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Turkey would be held on December 3. Regarding the Russian passengers on the plane, we informed the ambassadors that we didn’t know about the Russian passengers as the cabin crew refused to hand over the details of the passengers on board.
What do you make of the reaction from Moscow?
First of all, Syria’s false and illegal act should be clarified. A civilian aircraft is travelling from Moscow to Syria using our air space. This is a civilian plane belonging to the Syrian airline company and it is carrying military equipment. This is against national and international regulations. We shared this information with our Russian colleagues. The investigation is still going on.
Can you give us more details on the materials confiscated?
The investigation is continuing. We will give more information when the investigation is completed.