Erdogan to Visit Russia for First Meeting with Putin Since Downing Russian Jet

The Associated Press

Turkey’s state-run Andalou news agency announced on Tuesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, on August 9 for his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet last November.

“It will also be Erdoğan’s first announced trip abroad since the failed military coup attempt in Turkey on the night of July 15,” notes Hurriyet Daily News.

Hurriyet reports that Putin called Erdogan on the day after the recent attempt to overthrow him was quashed to declare that “Russia found anti-constitutional acts and violence unacceptable and is hoping for the restoration of order and stability in Turkey.” An agreement to meet in person was reached during the call.

“The attempt to overthrow Erdogan has turbo-charged efforts to restore ties between Turkey and Russia that were already under way after the crisis over the warplane,” Bloomberg News reports:

The rapprochement may even lead to a political realignment in the region. Erdogan has drawn strong criticism from the U.S. and other NATO allies for a sweeping crackdown on tens of thousands of alleged opponents following the failed coup, while Turkey has heaped praise on Russia for its support since the crisis erupted on July 15.

Carnegie Moscow Center senior associate Alexander Baunov predicted Russia and Turkey could form an alliance of “two developing economies with an ideology of sovereign values as a union of the deceived against the West.”

That is a far cry from when Putin was accusing Turkey of “stabbing Russia in the back” by shooting down its jet, described the Erdogan government as a “gang,” and accused Erdogan’s family of profiteering from the sale of oil to the Islamic State. Russian tourism to Turkey collapsed, trade was cut in half, and a major gas pipeline project was put on hold.

By June, as Fox News reports, Erdogan was willing to write a letter characterized by Turkey as an “expression of regret, not an apology,” in which he claimed to share the pain of the slain Russian pilot’s family “with all my heart” and declared Turkey was ready to “take any incentive to help ease the pain and the burden of inflicted damage.”

That letter seems to have signaled the beginning of reconciliation between Turkey and Russia. Fox News suggests Erdogan realized he had “miscalculated the plane incident’s fallout for the Turkish economy.” He may also have realized Turkey’s hopes of dislodging dictator Bashar Assad from Syria have been dashed, a major point of contention between Turkey and Russia.

Fox notes that Turkey also released details of a deal to mend fences with Israel on Tuesday, ending “six years of acrimony over Israel’s 2010 deadly raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship.”


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