Putin, Erdogan Announce Normalized Ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet at Kremlin, Moscow, on March 10.Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet at Kremlin, Moscow, on March 10.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday announced the “normalization” of ties between their nations, damaged by Ankara downing one of Moscow’s warplanes in 2015.

“We can state with confidence that our countries have returned to the path of a true multi-tiered cooperation between partners,” Putin told a news conference after the two met at Kremlin, Middle East Eye reported.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara hit rock bottom after Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian warplane over the Syrian border in November 2015, which Putin then labeled a “stab in the back”.

The two have reconciled since, notably cooperating on Syria and backing a ceasefire in December, which significantly reduced violence in the war-wracked country.

“In the last few months, the steps we have taken together have meant we have closed the gap in normalizing bilateral relations,” said Erdogan.

“I believe the normalization process has ended. We don’t want to utter this phrase any longer,” he said, adding that he expected Russia to “completely lift the sanctions” imposed after the plane’s downing.

The two leaders also signed a new economic cooperation plan and agreed to create an investment fund worth as much as $1 billion.

The Russian leader hailed the joint efforts on Syria, crediting the coordinated actions of Russia, Turkey and Iran for “considerably lowering the level of violence”.

He said Russia and Turkey will “continue cooperation in the fight against terrorist groups, especially IS”.

“Be it in Syria or in Iraq, in both countries our main objective is territorial integrity,” said Erdogan.

Erdogan, referring to IS’s remaining stronghold, told the news conference: “Of course, the real target now is Raqqa”.

Turkey is seeking a role for its military in the advance on Raqqa, but the US is veering toward enlisting the Kurdish YPG militia-contrary to Ankara’s aim of banishing Kurdish fighters eastwards across the Euphrates River.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints