Turkey is ready to cooperate with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist grouping (outlawed in Russia) but the issue of the possibility for Russia to use the Incirlik air base was not raised, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a Cabinet meeting on Monday (July 4).
“We were saying that we could cooperate with all in the fight against the Islamic State. For example, we have provided the Incirlik air base for the aircraft and forces of the [US-led] coalition countries,” the Turkish foreign minister said.
“We can also cooperate with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State but I didn’t speak about the use of the Incirlik air base by Russian aircraft. The Turkish press wrongly understood this [the statements earlier made by the minister] and this also found its way into the Russian press,” he said.
As Cavusoglu said, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan “urged Russian President Vladimir Putin even before the incident with the aircraft [the incident with the Russian bomber downed by the Turkish Air Force on November 24, 2015] to fight jointly against the Islamic State.”
The Turkish foreign minister spoke earlier on Monday on TRT television channel, mentioning the struggle against the Islamic State and the Incirlik air base.
“We’ll cooperate with all who is fighting against the Islamic State. We have opened the Incirlik base for all who want to join the active fight. Why not cooperate with Russia in the same way?” he said, referring to cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State.
According to Cavusoglu, precisely these words were wrongly interpreted by the Turkish and Russian media as Ankara’s readiness to provide the Incirlik air base for Russia’s aircraft.
Ankara has by now allowed the United States, Germany the United Kingdom, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to use its Incirlik air base.