Statement by the NATO Secretary General after the extraordinary NAC meeting
The North Atlantic Council has just held a meeting, an extraordinary meeting. And we have been updated by the Turkish Ambassador on the recent events. I have also spoken to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkey informed Allies about the downing of a Russian Air Force plane violating Turkish airspace.
I have previously expressed my concerns about the implications of the military actions of the Russian Federation close to NATO’s borders.
This highlights the importance of having and respecting arrangements to avoid such incidents in the future.
As we have repeatedly made clear, we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO Ally, Turkey.
We will continue to follow the developments on the South-Eastern borders of NATO very closely.
I look forward to further contacts between Ankara and Moscow and I call for calm and de-escalation.
Diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation.
Now I’m ready to take your questions.
Q (CNN): The Russians are saying the plane was shot down over Syrian territory and never went into Turkish territory. Are you convinced that it was shot down indeed over Turkish airspace and that Turkish airspace was indeed violate?
Secretary General: The Allied assessments we have got from several Allies during the day are consistent with information we have been provided with from Turkey. So the information we have from other Allies is consistent with what we have got from Turkey.
Q (Kurdish media): Mr Stoltenberg, how could be the situation and your position if tension between Russia and Turkey raised? You said that you are continue looking at developments. How could be your position if tensions continue to rise between Russia and Turkey? Thank you.
Secretary General: I’ve think I’ve expressed very clearly that we are calling for calm and de-escalation. This is a serious situation. This is a situation which calls on that we all are prudent and that we all contribute to de-escalating the situation.
And that’s also the reason why I welcome further contacts between Moscow and Ankara. There has been contacts and we would welcome even more contacts. To partly to solve this concrete incident, but also to continue to work on the development and also the strengthening of mechanisms to avoid these kinds of situation in the future.
Actually, inside the Alliance we are discussing how we can develop better and improved measures for transparency, for predictability, and for risk reduction. Because we have to avoid this kind of incidents. We have to avoid that situations, incidents, accidents spiral out of control.
And therefore this is a serious situation, but I think that the new security environment we are facing along NATO borders just underlines the importance of focusing more on predictability, transparency, and different measures to reduce risks.
Q (WSJ): What does this say about the ability for Allies to work together with Russia in Syria? Are the tactics just too different? Are the targets just too different?
Secretary General: The common enemy should be ISIL. And I would welcome all efforts to fight ISIL. And it is important that all of us, also Russia, is guided by the overarching goal of defeating ISIL.
What we have seen is that most of the attacks by Russia so far has been targeted towards targets in parts of Syria where ISIL is not present. So we welcome all efforts to fight ISIL. Our common enemy is ISIL, and therefore I would also welcome all efforts to strengthen the fight against ISIL.
Q (Reuters): Wondered if you had any contacts with the Russians or planned any contacts with the Russians over this incident?
Secretary General: There has been contacts between Ankara and Moscow, Turkey and Russia but so far there has been no direct contact between NATO and Russia. But we have been in contact with Turkey, a NATO ally, which has directly been in contact with Russian authorities.
Q (unknown): Do you have any more clarity as to how the plane was actually shot down because that’s disputed, whether it be surface to surface or surface to air or ground to air missile?
Secretary General: I will be careful going too much into specifics and too much into details but what I can confirm is that the assessments we have from allies are consistent with what Turkey briefed us about earlier today.