Putin, Erdogen to repair ties , agree to Syria talks

Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogen on Tuesday met Russian President Vladimir Putin to give a fresh start to the bilateral relations of the two countries which nosedived after Turkish military downed a Russian fighter jet last November.

This was the two leaders’ first meeting since the downing of the Russian fighter jet by Turkey on November 23 last year, RT news reported.

“Your visit, which comes amid a very complicated situation in Turkey, indicates that all of us want to revive our dialogue and restore relations for the sake of the Turkish and Russian peoples,” Putin said, greeting Erdogan in St. Petersburg.

Erdogan said he appreciates Putin’s willingness to meet him in person.

The two leaders are expected to come out with a “roadmap” to help bring Russia-Turkey relations to a new level.

Putin said he was “one of the first [heads of state] who called President [Erdogan] and reaffirmed support for overcoming the domestic political crisis related to the [military] coup”.

“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 Putin,” Erdogan said.

“The Syrian crisis will be discussed in depth and we hope that Turkey’s position will become more constructive,” Yury Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy aide, has said.

Moscow and Ankara largely disagree on Syria, as Turkey wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be ousted, while Russia supports him and the Syrian army in their fight against the Islamic State militant group.

Russia’s Defence Ministry has accused Turkey of aiding the IS in the past, citing data indicating that the militants were being re-supplied and re-armed from Turkey.

According to a Russian analyst, Erdogan “has realised that to fight the IS is equally important and Turkey cannot do it alone, and with the European countries Ankara was not getting enough help”.

“Western countries, including the NATO, have not been able to bring peace and stability to Syria. So this is why Erdogan has probably shifted to Russia to get much more support from Putin.”

Ties between Moscow and Ankara hit rock bottom when Turkish Air Force downed a Russian fighter jet which, according to Ankara, was in Turkish airspace while Russia insists the jet was in Syria. One of the two pilots was killed, as was a marine who took part in a rescue operation.

Relations between the two countries began to thaw in late June after Erdogan sent an apology letter to the Kremlin.

The one-day meeting in St. Petersburg also marked Erdogan’s first foreign visit since the July 15 failed military coup attempt against him in Turkey, which has strained relations between Turkey and the US.

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