14:04 GMT21 October 2020
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    The Western countries lambasting Turkey's authoritarian policy and the country's whole array of domestic economic woes prompted Ankara to start repairing ties with Russia, political analyst Fatih Ozbay told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, political analyst Fatih Ozbay mentioned the West's harsh criticism of Turkey slipping into dictatorship and authoritarianism, as well as a wide array of economic problems in the country, which he said finally forced Ankara to begin restoring relations with Russia.

    The interview came about a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which they agreed on holding a personal meeting later this year.

    The phone call was preceded by Erdogan expressing his regrets in a letter to Putin over Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane last year.

    Fatih Ozbay, for his part, said that "steps toward the normalization of ties with Russia would provide the Turkish government with a number of trump cards in domestic policy."

    Touching on resuscitating Turkish-Russian relations, he cited a number of factors, including the West slamming Turkey for its foreign policy, especially in Syria and Iraq.

    "Additionally, the West has repeatedly lashed out at Turkey becoming a dictatorship backsliding on human rights. Also, Turkey faces a host of serious economic problems. So in a bid to get rid of the burden of all these problems, Ankara decided to start to repair relations with Russia," he said.

    Ozbay stressed that Russia has always seen Turkey as a country of particular importance from a geopolitical point of view. In this vein, he recalled that Turkey has the status of a dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

    He suggested that the process of rapprochement between the two countries, which began after Erdogan's letter of apology, is also referred to the issues pertaining to the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean. He pointed to NATO's drills in the Black Sea and Ukraine's "readiness to open its ports."

    "From Russia's point of view, Turkey, despite its fading clout, can change the balance of forces in the region. In this sense, Russia did not want to burn all the bridges in relations with Ankara," Ozbay pointed out.

    On June 27, the Russian President's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that President Erdogan, in a letter addressed to Vladimir Putin, apologized for the downing of a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft by a Turkish jet in November 2015 and extended his condolences to the family of the pilot killed in the incident.

    By doing so Ankara fulfilled one of the conditions put forward by Moscow following the incident that paralyzed the long-term partnership between the two countries.

    Meanwhile, Putin has already signed a decree lifting restrictions on Russians seeking to travel to Turkey, namely charter flight bans and a recommendation for Russian travel agencies to stop selling tour packages to Turkish resorts.


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