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Erdoğan says believes relations with Russia to be restored immediately over letter

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that he believes ties with Russia are to be restored immediately over a letter he sent to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, apologizing for Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian war plane and death of the Russian pilot.

Speaking during an iftar dinner event organized for tradesmen at Beştepe Presidential Palace in Ankara, Erdoğan underlined on Monday that writing a letter to apologize to Putin over Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian war plane in late 2015 was a step to eliminate “negative” consequences of the incident.

“In the letter I sent [to Putin], I expressed my sorrow for the incident and reminded him of the opportunities of regional cooperation [between the two countries]. Turkey has always shown that it is a country that provides confidence to its friends. I believe in efforts to develop the strategic steps taken to restore relations also with this close neighbor of ours. … I believe that we will leave this current situation, which is to both countries’ disadvantage, behind us and normalize our ties immediately,” Erdoğan said.

According to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s statements on a TV program Monday night, Putin and Erdoğan are expected to make a telephone conversation on Wednesday or Thursday.

The Kremlin announced on Monday that Erdoğan apologized to Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a letter over Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian war plane in late 2015.

According to Reuters, the Kremlin’s statement said Putin had received a letter from Erdoğan “in which the Turkish leader expressed his desire to resolve the situation connected to the downing of a Russian military aircraft.”

Erdoğan was quoted in the statement as writing “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.”

A Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish military aircraft near Turkey’s border with Syria on November 24, 2015. Following the incident, two contradicting official statements came from the two countries. According to Russian President Putin, the Su-24 was struck by air-to-air missiles fired by Turkish F-16s as it was flying over Syrian territory. However, the Turkish government claimed that the Russian plane violated Turkish airspace and it was engaged after being warned.

The pilot of the downed Russian plane was shot dead reportedly as he descended with parachute after surviving the crash.

Russia imposed a number of sanctions on Turkey in response to the incident. Two weeks ago Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Russia is willing to fix the relations with Turkey, however, Ankara first needs to take a step. There was no immediate comment from Ankara.

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