Turkey is ready “if necessary” to pay compensation to Russia after it shot down one of Moscow’s military jets over Syria in November, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said.
“We have said that if necessary we are ready to pay compensation,” Yildirim told public TV network TRT late yesterday, hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached out a conciliatory hand to Moscow over the incident that shattered ties between the two nations.
He also indicated that Erdogan would speak with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday or Thursday over how to rebuild ties between the two nations, which back opposite sides in the Syrian war.
“I think we have reached an understanding on this affair. We will put this incident behind us and continue on our path,” Yildirim said.
Turkey had previously refused to apologise over the incident, insisting the Russian plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings.
Russia insisted it did not cross the border and accused Turkey of a “planned provocation”.
Ankara is backing rebels fighting to topple Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow is one of his last remaining allies.
Ankara went on a diplomatic charm offensive yesterday as it seeks to shore up its influence in the region, hailing a deal with Israel to restore ties as well as mending fences with Russia.
Erdogan said at a dinner to break the Ramadan fast last night that he hoped for a “quick” normalisation in ties with Moscow.
The Kremlin yesterday said Erdogan had apologised to Putin over Ankara’s downing of the jet on Turkey’s border with Syria.
Turkish officials said however that Erdogan had written to Putin to “express his regrets” and did not explicitly confirm he had said sorry.
The twin breakthroughs with Russia and Israel come as Turkey moves back towards a policy known as “zero problems with neighbours” following a string of diplomatic crises and with its foe Assad still in power in Syria.