By Meltem Bulur
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent letter to his Russian counterpart calling for the restoration of “traditional friendly ties”, did not include any words of “apology” over the downing of a Russian warplane in November 2015, according to a presidential source on Tuesday.
In the letter sent on Monday, Erdogan extended condolences to the family of the Russian pilot, whose warplane was downed over violation of airspace, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity, due to restrictions on speaking to media.
The source clarified that the sorrow expressed in the letter was addressed not to the Russian state, but to the pilot’s family, and there was no reference to compensation.
The source said that Turkey’s position on Syria, Ukraine and Crimea would remain unchanged, and added: “However, from now on we will be able to communicate directly with Russia on these issues and get involved in the developments.”
The source went on to say that the recent developments would help remove any limitations targeting Turkey's tourism industry. Ankara will also be monitoring the sanctions on agricultural products, the source added.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin quoted Erdogan's words to President Vladimir Putin contained in the letter: “I would like to send my condolences to the family of the pilot who lost his life and express one more time that I share their pain. I am saying to his family: 'Excuse us'," he said.
Kalin said that Erdogan took the opportunity to call for anti-terrorist cooperation between Turkey and Russia and joint efforts to solve regional crises.
The spokesman added that Ankara and Moscow had agreed to take necessary steps to improve relations.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin is expected to phone Erdogan on Wednesday, said Turkish presidential sources.
Following the Nov. 2015 downing of the Russian warplane by Turkey, the Kremlin ordered sanctions on food products, an end to visa-free travel, and a ban on Russian tourists taking package holidays in Turkey.
*Anadolu Agency Correspondent Hale Turkes contributed to this report from Ankara.