Baku-APA. A senior Turkish politician dismissed Monday the photograph of a Russian sailor appearing to aim a shoulder-held missile-launcher at Istanbul as a "childish show", APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.
"Unfortunately, we interpreted that image as a show," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told a news conference in Ankara following a Cabinet meeting.
"There was no need for that. It is apparent from the photo that Turkey's security was being threatened. However, there was not the slightest threat against the Russian ships passing through [the Bosphorus] in any way."
He added: "We wish there were no such incident. Let me reiterate that it was a childish show."
Sunday’s incident, in which a photographer captured a serviceman aboard the Caesar Kunikov landing ship apparently aiming the surface-to-air missile launcher towards Turkey’s largest city, caused outrage.
Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Russia to step back from its "provocative" stance towards Turkey and Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry for an hour-long meeting over the incident.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey controls the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Straits and regulates the passage of warships between the Black and Mediterranean seas.
The incident took place as tensions between Turkey and Russia are at their highest since the end of the Cold War following the downing of a Russian warplane over southern Turkey, despite repeated warnings not to violate Turkish airspace.
Kurtulmus also commented on a diplomatic row brewing in Iraq, where the government has called for the removal of Turkish troops.
"Turkey respects Iraq’s territorial integrity," he told journalists. "Turkey's presence in northern Iraq is not against the central Iraqi government. Quite the contrary, the goal is to empower the central government in order to ensure an effective cooperation in the fight against Daesh."
Around 150 Turkish soldiers were deployed near Mosul on Friday to replace training forces already in the area. The deployment also saw 20 to 25 tanks dispatched to the area.
Turkish army sources said Saturday they had been training Kurdish peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq’s four provinces for two-and-a-half years.
On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu sent a letter to his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi to inform him of the activities of troops deployed to Mosul.
According to sources in the prime minister’s office, Davutoglu said Ankara would never threaten Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and wanted to enhance cooperation with Baghdad against Daesh.
© APA 2018