Erdoğan to Meet Putin in Russia to Improve Ties

hhhhTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in St. Petersburg August.9 to improve bilateral political and economic ties between the two countries after their relations took a turn to the worse in the wake of Turkey shooting down a Russian jet in November 2015.

Erdoğan said that upcoming talks with his counterpart Vladimir Putin will “open a new page” in Turkish-Russian relations.

“This will be a historic visit, a fresh start. I believe that a new page will be opened [during] … the negotiations with my friend Vladimir,” Erdogan told TASS news agency in an exclusive interview ahead of his state visit on Tuesday, adding “there is yet much for our countries to do together.”

“A solution to the Syrian crisis cannot be found without Russia,” Erdoğ an said, stressing that Russia’s intervention is significant for the peace process in Syria.

Russia and Turkey have been on different sides in Syria, with Moscow backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Ankara wants him ousted.

Putin’s aide Yury Ushakov spoke to reporters on Friday about the upcoming meeting and said, “The Syrian crisis will be discussed in depth” between the two leaders for the first time in months, adding “we hope that Turkey’s position will become more constructive.”

After Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 warplane over the Turkey-Syria border last November, relations between the two soured.

Russia imposed economic sanctions on Turkey, stopped exporting natural gas to the country, ended visa-free travel, and banned Russian citizens from taking package holidays to Turkey – all efforts aimed at punishing Turkey for its action.

Russia said the restrictions would not be lifted until Turkey apologized for the incident and paid for reparations.

Erdoğan issued an apology in a letter sent to Putin two weeks ago. According to the Kremlin, Erdogan wrote, “I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who died and I say: ‘I’m sorry.’”

Erdoğan reportedly expressed his desire to resolve the situation that resulted from the downing of the jet, noting that, “Russia is a friend to Turkey and a strategic partner, with which the Turkish authorities would not wish to spoil relations,” the statement from the Kremlin said.

Erdoğan’s meeting with Putin coincides with renewed strains in Ankara’s ties with the West after a failed military coup in Turkey in which more than 250 people were killed. Turkey accuses the West of showing more concern over a post-coup crackdown than over the bloody events themselves.

Putin, on the other hand, gave his support to Turkey after the July 15 coup attempt and said he stood by the elected government, offering his condolences to the victims of what Erdoğan called the “most heinous” armed coup attempt in modern Turkish history.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the German government said Aug. 8 that Germany did not believe that a thaw in relations between Turkey and Russia would affect Turkey’s role in the NATO alliance.

The spokeswoman said it was important for both countries to communicate given the threat situation in the region, and their respective roles in ending the civil war in Syria.

“We do not believe that the rapprochement between Turkey and Russia will have consequences for the security partnership within NATO,” said spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli. “Turkey is and remains an important partner within NATO.”

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