Turkey appeals to flamboyant nationalist Zhirinovsky for softening Putin’s stance
Emine Kart - ANKARATurkey’s outgoing ambassador to Russia, Ümit Yardım, met with Zhirinovsky in Moscow to this aim in recent days before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a congratulatory message to Russia’s Vladimir Putin for a Russian national holiday.
Yardım had a tête-à-tête with Zhirinovsky in a private residence in the Russian capital a few weeks ago and they talked about Turkey-Russia relations, reliable sources based in Moscow told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have confirmed the meeting.
“Our ambassador has been in contact with Liberal Democratic Party leader Zhirinovsky; likewise he has been with a lot of interlocutors in the Russian Federation and it is true that a meeting in this context was held a short while ago,” a senior Foreign Ministry official told the Daily News on June 17.
“In principle, we do not share the content of these kinds of meetings. Notwithstanding, during the meeting, in the nature of things, the state of Turkey-Russia relations was also dealt with. Following the Nov. 24 incident, with its proposal for founding a joint commission, Turkey displayed its posture aimed at leaving the issue in the past in a constructive way,” the senior diplomat, speaking under customary condition of anonymity, said, referring to the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) downing of a Russian plane along the Syrian border on Nov. 24, 2015.
“We have resumed this approach recently with congratulatory messages sent at the highest-level,” the diplomat said.
On June 14, sources from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office leaked the president’s message to Putin for a Russian national holiday which was sent on June 12 on the occasion of Russia Day.
“We expect Russia to approach the issue in a prudent way from now on and give ear to our call for dialogue,” the diplomat said.
The downing of the Russian jet sparked an unprecedented crisis in the two nations’ relationship, which has been exacerbated by Moscow’s role in the Syrian war.
Turkey says the Russian plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, but Russia insisted it did not cross the border and accused Ankara of a “planned provocation.”
Turkology and ‘deep state’
Zhirinovsky, a Turkologist by profession and former student-intern in Turkey, is widely described as “the clown prince of Russian politics.”
Kremlin’s current spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, is also a Turkologist. Both Zhirinovsky and Peskov are known to deliver their opinions to Putin in regards to relations with Turkey, the same Moscow-based reliable sources told the Daily News.
His eccentric scolds set aside, Zhirinovsky is accepted by the Russian public as a figure who voices convictions and arguments that cannot be uttered by “the deep state in Russia,” in his own style, the same sources added.