Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan have mended strained relations in a meeting in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
It was the first meeting between the two leaders since November last year when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on the Syrian border. The plane was shot down after it invaded Turkish airspace, allege Turkish officials. The pilot and a rescue mission marine were both killed. Mr Putin condemned the downing of the jet and immediately suspended Russian tourism to Turkey. He also introduced extreme business sanctions to the country, however, following Tuesday’s meeting, announced they will be reformed.
“We will gradually be lifting the measures implemented in regards to Turkish companies, the sanctions,” Mr Putin said after his meeting with Mr Erdogan.
“Regarding the full restoration of ties with Turkey, do we want it?” he asked. “Yes, and we will carry it out.”
Mr Erdogan first sought to improve relations with Russia when he sent a letter in June that apologised for the shooting and expressed sympathy to the family of the dead pilot. Mr Putin responded to the letter and promised to lesson the restrictions on Russian tourism to Turkey. Relations were improved further when Mr Putin showed support for Mr Erdogan following July’s failed military coup attempt and phoned the Turkish leader to express condolences to those who were killed.
In a press conference after their private meeting, the leaders promised to improve trade and tourism ties. Mr Putin announced they had agreed on the need to fight terrorism but admitted differences remained over security issues, such as the conflict in Syria. – Samantha Besgrove.