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“Turkey ready to take necessary steps to ease sorrow of slain Russian pilot’s family”

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Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın on Tuesday stated that Turkey is ready to take necessary steps to ease the sorrow of a slain Russian pilot’s family, following Turkey’s apology to Russia for 2015’s downing of a Russian war plane near the Syrian border.

Kalın referred to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s letter to Russian leader Vladimir Putin that expressed condolences on the murder of a Russian pilot by a Turkish man after Turkey’s downing of the Russian jet. “This is a humanitarian attitude. Regardless of reason, a human being died there. It is also pleasing that Russia accepted it [the apology]. As it was stated in Mr. President’s letter, we are ready to take necessary steps to ease the sorrow of [the slain pilot’s] family. If the family has any requests, we will take it into consideration,” Kalın said.

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.

Following the incident, Alparslan Çelik, a Turkish ultra-nationalist, claimed that his group killed the Russian pilot. Çelik was reportedly fighting in the ranks of Turkmen groups in Syria.

In December 2015, Moscow demanded Çelik’s arrest and extradition to Russia. A Turkish court in the western province of Izmir ruled for arrest of Çelik in late March. The Turkish court dropped charges against Çelik on May 10.

Another criminal investigation was later launched against Çelik on charges of “possessing war weapon,” however, he was released pending trial along with six others on Monday with a travel ban to abroad.

Delegation heading to Gaza this week; Turkey to send new ambassador to Israel

In Tuesday’s press conference, Kalın also commented on the recent deal between Turkey and Israel that is aimed at restoring relations between the two countries. Kalın stated that Turkey is set to send a technical delegation to Gaza later this week ahead of humanitarian aid, and an ambassador will soon be appointed to Israel.

According to the agreement, only one of Turkey’s three conditions is to be fulfilled. Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for the Gaza flotilla raid, fulfilling one of the conditions, the two remaining ones — lifting the Gaza blockade and paying compensation for the incident in 2010 — reportedly will not be fulfilled in the exact way that Turkey demands.

Although lifting the Gaza blockade is not a part of the deal, it is reportedly agreed that humanitarian aid to Gaza will be sent if Israeli government approves it after inspecting it in the Ashdod Port.

The Israeli navy killed nine Turkish and one Turkish-American pro-Palestinian activists in 2010, conducting an operation against six civilian ships that belonged to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The ships were carrying humanitarian aid and construction supplies to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

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