The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has apologised to Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, over Ankara’s downing of a Russian military jet last year that shattered diplomatic ties, the Kremlin has said.
“The head of the Turkish state in his message expressed his sympathy and deepest condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and said sorry,” the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said. He added that Erdoğan said he wanted to do “everything possible for the restoration of the traditionally friendly relations between Turkey and Russia”.
The Kremlin then released a statement citing Erdoğan as saying Ankara “never had the desire and the intention” to down the Russian jet. “I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and I say sorry,” the statement quoted Erdoğan as saying.
Turkey’s downing in November of the warplane on its border with Syria – where Moscow is flying a bombing campaign in support of longstanding ally Bashar al-Assad – sparked an unprecedented crisis in the two states’ relations.
Ankara had argued that the Russian plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, but Moscow insisted it did not cross the border and accused Ankara of a “planned provocation”.
According to the Kremlin, Erdoğan also said authorities were investigating a Turkish national allegedly responsible for the downing of the jet.