ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said he would be ready to quit office if allegations by Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Turkey traded oil with the militant Islamic State (IS) group were proven.
“I will say something very strong here. If such a thing is proven, the nobility of our nation would require that I would not stay in office,” Erdogan was quoted by the state-run Anatolia news agency as saying on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) climate talks near Paris, which Putin is also attending.
Challenging Putin, who has refused to meet the Turkish leader after the shooting down of a Russian military jet, Erdogan added: “And I tell Mr. Putin ‘would you stay in that office?’ I say this clearly.”
Putin earlier Monday accused Ankara of shooting down the Russian Su-24 warplane last week to protect supplies of oil from the IS group to Turkey, charges Turkey vehemently denies.
“Let’s remain patient and let’s not act emotionally,” said Erdogan.
Erdogan said that Turkey obtained all its oil and gas imports “though the legal path”.
“We are not dishonest so as to do this kind of exchange with terrorist groups. Everyone needs to know this.”
After the Su-24 bomber was downed on the Syrian border last week, Putin accused the Turks of being “accomplices of terrorists” and said oil from IS territory was being exported through Turkey.