Turkey expresses regret to Russia over warplane downing
Turkey has expressed its regrets to Russia over the downing of a warplane on its Syrian border, aiming for a quick normalization of ties with Moscow. Official Kremlin said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had apologized to his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, over the downing of a Russian military jet by Turkey's military in Syria last November, which shattered ties between the two nations.
"I believe we will normalize our relations with Russia rapidly by ending the existing situation, which is not in the interest of both sides," President Erdogan said, hoping to open the way for Russia to lift economic sanctions.
A spokesman for Mr Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, confirmed a letter was sent to Mr Putin. Mr Kalin said Mr Erdogan had expressed regret and asked the family of the pilot to "excuse us".
The moves come as a new Turkish Government packed with Mr Erdogan's allies re-evaluates its foreign policy.Days after taking office last month, the new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey needed to "increase its friends and decrease its enemies", in what appeared a tacit admission that his predecessor's policies had left the NATO member isolated.
In November 2015 the Kremlin responded to the downing of the plane by slapping trade restrictions on Ankara, and Mr Putin had said those measures would only be lifted if Mr Erdogan personally issued an apology. So far there was no word from the Russian authorities on ending the sanctions.