Turkey needs to take steps to mend ties, Kremlin says

Turkey needs to take steps to mend ties, Kremlin says

Turkey needs to take steps to mend ties, Kremlin says

AP photo

Kremlin has commented on the letters by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, saying that Russia wants to mend ties, but Turkey needs to take some steps first. 

“We would like and we want a normalization of our relations and their return to the period of good and mutually advantageous cooperation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on June 15.

“But at the same time President (Vladimir) Putin has made it crystal clear that after what happened any normalization of ties does not look possible before Ankara has taken the necessary steps,” he said, referring to Russia’s insistence that Turkey apologize and pay compensation for downing of the Russian jet.

Given that the letter was a protocol message, an answer is not necessary, Peskov said.

“On national holidays, protocol messages like these are sent. This is a normal event in international relations. These messages don’t require a reply. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any explanation in the letter,” Peskov said. 

Yıldırım and Erdoğan passed along greetings to Russian counterparts Dmitry Medvedev and Putin on the occasion of Day of Russia on June 12 despite ongoing tension between the two countries.

Yıldırım and Erdoğan sent letters to Medvedev and Putin, respectively, according to reports citing Prime Ministry sources.

“On behalf of the Turkish people, I celebrate the National Day of the Russian people. I also hope that relations between Russia and Turkey reach the level they deserve in the near future,” Erdoğan wrote in his letter to the Russian president.

“I hope that the cooperation and relations between our countries reach the level necessary for the common goals of our people soon. I wish health and prosperity to all Russians on behalf of you,” Yıldırım also said.

The letter move by Turkey came after the Russian Defense Ministry stated that a Turkish surveillance plane carrying local and Finnish experts would conduct flights over Russia in a rare instance in which Moscow has granted permission for such a flight due to tensions that after Turkey downed a Russian jet on Nov. 24, 2015.

The permit, a part of the Treaty on Open Skies, has been granted despite a refusal of such a demand in February, said the ministry.

Sergey Rijkov, the Russian ministry official in charge of the Treaty on Open Skies, said in a statement that Russian officers would accompany the flights scheduled to begin on June 13 and continue for four days.

Turkey downed a Russian jet along its border on Nov. 24, 2015, over alleged airspace violations, prompting a series of sanctions from the Russian side, as well as a war of words.

Putin accused Ankara of a “stab in the back” and imposed sanctions on Turkey, as the trade between the two countries – which back opposing sides in the five-year Syrian conflict – plummeted. 

Erdoğan recently said both sides should work together to better their relations, adding that he was concerned at how relations had been sacrificed over what he described as a “pilot error.”

Kremlin recently voiced its regret that Turkey had not taken the necessary steps to mend ties after the downing of the jet, while adding that Russia was still waiting for Turkey to apologize and pay compensation for the incident. 

Another row started when the two countries exchanged blame over the other’s actions in Syria and Iraq on May 31.

Turkey accused Russia of conducting air strikes in the rebel-held city of Idlib that killed 60 people, prompting a Russian denial and a counter demand that Turkey withdraw its troops from Iraq.