Turkey will not apologize for downing a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border but Moscow should reconsider retaliatory sanctions, Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday as he held talks at NATO headquarters.
"Protection of our airspace, our border is not only a right but a duty for my government and no Turkish premier or president…will apologize (for) doing our duty," Davutoglu told a joint press conference with NATO head Jens Stoltenberg.
Davutoglu added that "we hope Russia will reconsider these measures in both our interests," referring to the sanctions that Moscow imposed Saturday after the shooting down of the jet last week.
"If the Russian side wants to talk, we are ready; if they want more information, we are ready; if they want to normalize relations, we are ready to talk," he said.
Davutoglu was speaking as the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had rejected an invitation to meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the Paris global climate conference.
Erdogan had called for face-to-face talks with Putin as Moscow and Ankara trade furious charge and counter-charge over who was responsible for downing the plane.
Ankara said Monday it had returned the body of the pilot to Russia.
NATO chief Stoltenberg said that while Turkey had every right to defend its airspace, the focus now had to be on avoiding any escalation as the allies try to forge a common front – possibly including Russia – against Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist fighters in Syria and Iraq in the wake of the Paris attacks.
"I welcome Turkish efforts to establish contacts with Russia to de-escalate…it is important to stay calm," Stoltenberg said.
"I urge Russia to play a constructive role in Syria by targeting ISIS, our common enemy," he added, referring to criticisms by Western nations that Russia has been targeting non-ISIS opposition forces in Syria.
AFP contributed to this report.