Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in response to the assassination of a Russian ambassador by a Turkish policeman, said he would welcome Russia’s participation in investigating the incident, noting that Ankara and Moscow agree the attack is intended to disrupt mutual ties.
“We agree with [Vladimir] Putin that this is a provocation, there is no split of opinion about this,” said Erdogan while commenting on a phone conversation with the Russian president during a televised speech, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
Russian President Putin has also described the Monday’s assassination of the 62-year-old Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov by Turkish police officer Mert Altintas, 22, as a “provocation” intended to undermine efforts between the two countries to normalize their relationship and disrupt peace negotiations in Syria backed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.
“In this phone call tonight, we agreed on empowering our solidarity,” also said the Turkish leader, adding that the two countries are determined not to allow the “provocation” to work deter their ongoing efforts to mend their relationship.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow deteriorated after the November 2015 shooting down of a Russian warplane by the Turkish military.
However, the two countries have been working on improving their ties for months and recently negotiated a truce in the Syrian city of Aleppo that allowed some civilians to leave the once rebel-controlled eastern part of the war-ravaged city.
Erdogan emphasized that the increasing cooperation between Russia and Turkey, particularly in Aleppo, “will continue in determination.”
Russia is expected to send its own investigators to look into the deadly incident, a move that the Turkish president has approved.
Moscow has reportedly requested increased security for Russian diplomatic missions.
The administrations of Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have denounced the execution of the Russian diplomat as an act of terrorism.
Turkish security forces killed the assailant in a gunfight after the attack, which occurred at a Russian embassy-sponsored photo exhibition, dubbed “Russia as seen by Turks,” in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
Altintas fired at least eight shots, ultimately killing the Russian diplomat several minutes into a speech he attempted to deliver during the exhibition. The attacker shouted the common battle cry of jihadists as they commit mass murder, “Allahu Akbar!”
Turkey and Russia have been on opposite sides of the ongoing Syrian civil war.
While ongoing support from Russia and Iran has allowed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to remain in power, Turkey has been lending aid to armed groups seeking to overthrow the regime.
Even as Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim declared the nearly year-long pause in relations between Moscow and Ankara is “over” earlier this month, the PM blamed the Assad government for the ongoing conflict.