Turkey’s Erdogan to pay state visit to Germany

The spokeswoman did not say if Erdogan would also hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 07 August 2018
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Turkey’s Erdogan to pay state visit to Germany

  • The two fellow NATO members have differed over Turkey’s crackdown on suspected Erdogan opponents
  • The spokeswoman did not say if Erdogan would also hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel

BERLIN: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will pay a state visit to Germany on Sept. 28-29, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday, amid efforts by the allies to improves ties strained by a number of disputes.
The two fellow members of the NATO military alliance have differed over Turkey’s crackdown on suspected opponents of Erdogan after a failed coup in 2016 and over its detention of German citizens.
The spokeswoman did not say if Erdogan would also hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel’s office declined to comment.
Germany’s mass-selling Bild newspaper reported last month that Erdogan would visit Germany around late September.
A state visit would include a reception by Steinmeier with military honors and a formal state banquet. The German and Turkish foreign ministers vowed earlier this year to do everything to improve relations.
Their resolve led to the release in February of a German-Turkish journalist who had been held in Turkey for a year for alleged security offenses. His release fulfilled a key demand by Germany, which still takes issue with what it calls Turkey’s deteriorating record on human rights.
Another German national was arrested in southeastern Turkey last month accused of spreading propaganda for Turkish militants, Turkish state media said.
The Turkish government has purged more than 150,000 civil servants and charged 77,000 people since the failed coup.
It has also launched cross-border operations into Syria against what it says are terrorist threats by the Kurdish YPG militia, which it deems a terrorist organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, saying Erdogan has used the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent. The government says the measures are necessary.


Russia says ‘misled’ by Israel in plane downing over Syria

Updated 46 sec ago
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Russia says ‘misled’ by Israel in plane downing over Syria

MOSCOW: Russia’s military Sunday blamed “misleading” information from the Israeli airforce for the downing of one of its planes in Syria last week, and denounced the “adventurism” of Israeli pilots.
Israel strongly disputed the assertion and vowed it will continue to act against Iranian targets in neighboring Syria.
A Syrian air defense missile downed the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 military plane on September 17, killing all 15 soldiers aboard and threatening to damage relations between Russia and Israel, which three years ago set up a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to seek to move past the incident in spite of strong statements from the Russian military.
On Sunday, military spokesman Igor Konashenkov presented the results of an investigation.
Moscow has accused Israel’s fighter pilots of using the bigger Ilyushin as cover, causing Syria’s Soviet-era S-200 air defense system to interpret the Russian plane as a target.
Israel denied this version of events and its air force commander flew to Moscow following the incident, which Putin called the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”
It was the deadliest known case of friendly fire between Syria and key backer Russia since Moscow’s game-changing 2015 military intervention.
Konashenkov said the Russian military received a call from Israeli command at 1839 GMT on the day of the incident to warn that Israel would be striking “north of Syria,” where the Il-20 surveillance aircraft was monitoring the Idlib de-escalation zone.
Russia ordered its plane back to base. Then, “one minute” after Israel’s call, its F-16 planes struck targets in Latakia in western Syria, he said.
“The misleading (information) by the Israeli officer regarding the location of the strikes made it impossible to guide the Il-20 to a safe location,” said Konashenkov.
As the Il-20 was landing near Latakia, one of the F-16 planes “began maneuvers” at 1859 GMT “getting closer to the Il-20,” which was interpreted as a repeat attack by the Syrian air defense and resulted in it being shot down, he said.
“Monitoring the Il-20, the Israeli fighters used it as cover from the anti-aircraft missiles” and continued to patrol the area long after the Russian plane was shot down, he said.
The Israeli pilots’ actions “either speak of their unprofessionalism or criminal negligence at the very least,” Konashenkov said, reiterating the Israeli airforce was fully responsible for the downing of the plane.
The “adventurism” of the Israeli military could have endangered civilian planes which use the same airspace to land at the nearby Hmeimim aerodrome, the officer said.
“This is a very ungrateful response to everything Russia has done for Israel.”
Israel’s military said in a statement its jets “did not hide behind any aircraft and that the Israeli aircraft were in Israeli airspace at the time of the downing of the Russian plane.”
It again offered condolences to Russia.
Israel says it was targeting a Syrian military facility where weapons manufacturing systems were “about to be transferred on behalf of Iran” to Lebanese group Hezbollah.
It has pledged to stop Iran, its main enemy, from entrenching itself militarily in the neighboring country and has carried out dozens of attacks on Iranian targets there.
Iranian-backed Hezbollah is also an enemy of Israel, which has carried out strikes in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to the group.