Turkey denies apology to Russia over downed jet
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says Turkey has only expressed regrets to Russia over a downed jet in Syria, denying reports of an apology.
Yidirim also reversed an earlier offer of compensation to Russia for shooting down one of Moscow’s military jets in November, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.
“Compensating Russia is not on the table, we have only expressed our regrets,” CNN-Turk cited him as saying, hours after he said Ankara was ready to offer compensation for the incident.
The Kremlin said on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had apologized to Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a letter.
Erdogan’s spokesman confirmed the letter, but said the Turkish president had only expressed regret and asked the family of the pilot killed after the downing to “excuse us.”
The denial came just as the Kremlin said on Tuesday that President Putin will hold a phone conversation with Erdogan on Wednesday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, told a conference call with journalists that Russia did not expect strained relations with Turkey would mend in a few days.
Putin has said an apology from Erdogan is the condition for repairing relations between the two countries, which were shattered when the Russian jet was shot down by Turkey at the Syrian border.
Ankara said it shot down the plane because it entered Turkish airspace, an allegation Moscow denies. The Russian pilot ejected from the plane but was killed by gunfire from militants on the ground in Syria as he parachuted down to earth.
Yildirim also told reporters in parliament that legal proceedings were underway against an individual allegedly responsible for the killing of the Russian pilot.
Moscow, which imposed economic sanctions on Ankara over the downed plane, had said that apart from official apologies it also wanted Turkey to pay compensation for the incident.
After writing to Putin to voice his regret over the incident, Erdogan said he now believed that Ankara would normalize relations with Moscow “rapidly” but the Kremlin advised caution on Tuesday.
“One should not think it possible to normalize everything within a few days, but work in this direction will continue,” Peskov said.
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