Putin, Erdogan seek to restore Russia-Turkey ties after shooting down of war plane

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday (Sept 3) backed the healing of relations between their nations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday (Sept 3) backed the healing of relations between their nations. PHOTO: REUTERS

HANGZHOU (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday (Sept 3) backed the healing of relations between their nations, damaged by Ankara's shooting down of a Russian war plane last year.

"There is still a lot to do in order to completely re-establish cooperation in all areas," said Mr Putin, after the bilateral meeting in Hangzhou on the eve of a Group of 20 summit in the eastern Chinese city. "Turkey is going through a difficult period, fighting against terrorism in the face of serious terrorist crimes."

Mr Putin added: "I am sure that... we can go forward on our path of cooperation" once the situation in Turkey is "completely normalised."

Turkey and Russia normalised ties in June after Mr Erdogan sent a letter to Mr Putin expressing regret over the shooting down of a Russian war plane on the Syrian border last November which had caused an unprecedented crisis in their relations.

The following month, Mr Erdogan survived a coup attempt by a rogue military faction and in August the Turkish leader met Mr Putin during a highly symbolic visit to Russia, his first foreign trip since the failed coup.

On Saturday, the Turkish leader said he and Mr Putin would take "certain measures" to move bilateral ties forward, notably on thir joint TurkStream project, to pipe gas to Turkey and southern Europe, which was stalled by the diplomatic freeze.

The shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by a Turkish F-16 on the Syrian border last November saw Mr Putin slap sanctions on Turkey and launch a blistering war of words that dealt serious damage to burgeoning ties.

The first Russian charter plane carrying tourists to Turkey since Moscow lifted its travel sanctions landed in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya on Friday.