Turkey, Politics

Turkey denies 'shift of axis' in Erdogan's Russia visit

EU affairs minister says resumption of strong Turkey-Russia ties normal

09.08.2016
Turkey denies 'shift of axis' in Erdogan's Russia visit

ANKARA

A Turkish pivot towards Moscow was dismissed by EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik in the wake of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with his Russian counterpart on Tuesday.

Celik, who is responsible for Turkey’s long-running EU accession bid, made his remarks after several commentators claimed Erdogan’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg -- the first since Turkey shot down a Russian warplane last November -- marked a “shift of axis” in Ankara’s foreign policy.

In an interview with broadcaster Haberturk, Celik said close ties between the nations dated back to the Ottoman and Russian empires.

He said discussion about a change in direction had come “during times when the EU failed to set up real and meaningful relations with Turkey”.

He added: “No-one should ask us whether one of our relations is an alternative to another. All are relations are complementary of one another.”

Erdogan’s visit to Russia was his first overseas trip since the July 15 coup attempt, the aftermath of which has seen Turkey criticize Western governments and the EU for failing to support Turkish democracy in the face of a military takeover while warning Ankara to respect human rights and the rule of law.

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