Erdogan sends letter to Putin on Russia Day

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan passed along greetings to Russian counterparts Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin on the occasion of National Day in Russia on June 12 despite ongoing tension between the two countries, CNN Türk has reported.

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.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that they had received Erdoğan’s letter, saying it was delivered through the Foreign Ministry, Sputnik reported.

The move by Turkey comes 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.


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