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    December 1, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the concluding news conference in Ankara

    Breaking the Ice: How Turkey Tries to Win Russia Over

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    Russian Su-24 Jet Downed Over Syria (276)
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    Turkish authorities appear to be sending Russia a signal that Ankara is ready to make an effort to improve ties with Moscow, but experts warn against reading too much into it before any real and meaningful steps are made.

    The first signal came earlier this week when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made an indirect appeal to Russian authorities while on a visit to Washington D.C. "Sadly, we are going through a rough patch in relations with Moscow following November 24," he said, referring to the day when the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber, citing airspace violations. The plane, Russian officials and the copilot said, did not cross over into Turkey.

    "Despite Moscow's strong response [to the incident], which is hard for us to understand, regional challenges force us to resume cooperation [between the two countries], since Russia and Turkey are important nations in our geography," Erdogan added, expressing hope that Turkey's "Russian partners will understand this" and acknowledge the urgency of the challenges.

    On the same day that Erdogan made the comments, Turkish authorities arrested Alparslan Celik, a Syrian Turkmen rebel who boasted of killing the Su-24 pilot. Celik claimed that he had fatally shot Oleg Peshkov after the pilot had ejected from the aircraft.

    Celik, a Turkish national, was arrested in the town of Izmir along with 13 other people. He is said to have been charged with crimes unrelated to the Su-24 downing. The rebel is suspected of having misappropriated funds gathered as aid for Syrian Turkmens, as well as distributing counterfeit money and helping organize a prison breakout, the Dogan News Agency reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement source.

    ​"If Turkish authorities do not let [Celik] go in a couple of days, then they will make a step to meet Russia's request. This will be a positive sign. But this is unlikely to significantly improve bilateral relations," political analyst Hakan Aksay told RIA Novosti.

    Earlier, Russian authorities said that they expect Turkey to punish those responsible for the Su-24 downing, issue a formal apology and offer compensation for damages.

    A combination picture taken from video shows a war plane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border November 24, 2015
    © REUTERS / Reuters TV/Haberturk
    A combination picture taken from video shows a war plane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border November 24, 2015

    Turkish authorities have "so far adamantly refused to understand Russia," the analyst explained. "They think that in time everything will go back to normal. In the meantime, Russian leadership is making it clear that the crisis will not be over until Ankara admits its responsibility for the incident."

    Aksay also noted that Celik's arrest has so far caused a stir in Russia and not so much in Turkey.

    Russia's former ambassador to Turkey Peter Stegny, according to Gazeta.ru, also called Celik's arrest a "step in the right direction," but warned against jumping to conclusions.

    Gulf-based analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik echoed the sentiment, saying that "too many bad things have happened between Turkey and Russia." It follows then that Celik's trial will not be able "to affect Turkey's other policies when it comes to the Syrian conflict.

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    Russian Su-24 Jet Downed Over Syria (276)

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    Tags:
    bilateral relations, politics, geopolitics, Downing of Russian SU-24, Oleg Peshkov, Alparslan Celik, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Russia
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