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Erdogan, Putin patch up as Turkey's rift with West widens

news
09 August 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at St Petersburg today, extending a promise of renewed ties with Turkey, broken after Turkey's shooting down of a Russian war plane on the Syrian border in November last year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow today, on his first trip abroad since last month's aborted coup attempt.

Erdogan landed in St Petersburg on his first trip abroad since last month's aborted coup attempt - in the afternoon today vowing to turn ''a new page'' in a relationship marred by Russian sanctions after the shooting down of the fighter plane in November.
 
"Your visit today, despite a very difficult situation regarding domestic politics, indicates that we all want to restart dialogue and restore relations between Russia and Turkey," Putin said as the two met in the city's Constantine Palace.

Erdogan thanked Putin for his support following an attempted coup last month, and said he expected the two countries to "enter into a very different phase with the steps we will take and have taken."

Turkey's decision to renew relationship with Russia soured by the downing of a Russian war plane along the Syrian border in November, however, comes at a time when Ankara is reviewing its ties with the West in the backdrop of the failed coup that many believe had US backing.

While government officials in Ankara say the visit is prompted by the need for a patch-up with Moscow to ease things, including the economic woes brought about by Russian sanctions, political analysts see it as an offshoot of mutual tensions with the United States.

Relations between Turkey and Russia were sorely tested by Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane along the Syrian border in November, but Erdogan and Putin have good reasons to ''send a message to the US and European Union,'' which have not been nearly as sympathetic to Erdogan after the failed coup.

The West, especially the US, has antagonised Erdogan by refusing to hand over the man he blames for masterminding the coup, exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, and instead advising him on human rights and authoritarianism while he cracks down on coup plotters.

On the other hand, Russia, despite its animosity with Turkey, was the first to condemn the coup. This gives Erdogan more reason for rapprochement with Russia.

Turkey also needs assurances on trade, energy and Syria.

Analysts say Erdogan must be expecting Russia to give up its long-standing support to Kurdish separatists in a trade-off for its continuing support to the Assad regime in Syria, which Turkey despises.





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