Russia calls on Turkey to declare no weapon found in intercepted plane
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on Turkey to announce that there were no weapons on the Syrian plane heading from Moscow to Damascus that was forced to land in Ankara by Turkey on suspicions of carrying non-civilian cargo earlier this month, Todays Zaman reported.
Speaking to Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Tuesday, Lavrov said Turkish officials had delivered contradictory information on the issue.
"We demand information from our Turkish counterparts over the details of the issue. They say electronics, technical equipment was found there (on the plane). In this regard we expect from them to declare that there were no weapons or ammunition on the intercepted plane," the Russian foreign minister told the Russian daily.
He said the Turkish side rejected the pilot's request for a copy of the documents the Turkish side prepared on what it had confiscated from the plane's cargo.
He said this raises concerns for the Russian side.
Turkish jets in early October forced a Syrian passenger plane to land at an airport in Ankara on suspicions that it was carrying weapons, and officials seized military communication equipment and parts that could be used in missiles.
Turkish officials said the plane may have been carrying "certain equipment in breach of civil aviation rules."
After learning what the cargo found on the plane was, Lavrov stated that Russia had already explained that the cargo included electronic equipment for radar stations in Syria.
Lavrov noted that the plane was legally carrying Russian radar parts for Syria when Turkey forced it to land in Ankara.
He insisted the shipment of "electric equipment for radars" was legitimate cargo that complied with international law, but added that it was of "dual purpose," meaning it could have civilian and military applications.
"It's not forbidden by any international conventions," Lavrov had said at the time.
He maintained his approach to the issue and stated that the cargo is not forbidden by the UN Security Council or any international conventions. The Russian foreign minister said the issue is about routine delivery of replacement parts, adding that the Russian sender is bound with a 10-year contract. The company has an obligation to make Syrian radars work properly, Lavrov noted.
The Russian foreign minister the cargo is prepared and sent through legal channels whenever the Syrian side files a request. This equipment does not pose any threat to the safety of passengers and the general security of the plane, he added, pointing out that the material is radar parts used by both civilian and military installations.
He said the pilot agreeing to land in Turkey following the country's order to either change the plane's flight plan or land proves there was no illegal cargo on the plane.
He said Turkey forced a Syrian passenger plane to land in Ankara based on rights stemming from the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention.