President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin today for a diplomatic reset.
The summit in St. Petersburg is aimed at ending a period of high tension and trade sanctions after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border last November an act described by Putin as a “stab in the back.”
Turkey’s relations with traditional allies including the U.S. have faltered over Ankara’s post-coup crackdown, which has seen nearly 18,000 people detained or arrested and tens of thousands suspended or fired from their jobs .
Russia imposed trade sanctions on Turkey and the number of Russian tourists visiting the country fell by 87% in the first half of 2016.
In interview with Russia’s TASS news agency earlier, Mr Erdogan repeatedly referred to Mr Putin as “dear” or “respected” Vladimir and called him a friend.
“I see this visit as a new beginning, a new page in relations between the two countries. I would like to send my warmest regards to both Vladimir (Putin) and Russian people on behalf of myself and Turkish nation,” Mr Erdogan told TASS.
Mr Erdogan’s meeting with Mr Putin will be only his second with a foreign head of state since the coup, following a visit to Ankara by the Kazakh president last week.