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ANKARA, May 31. /TASS/. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he would like to mend relations with Russia but he does not know what step Moscow expects him to take. He was speaking in Izmir before leaving on an African tour.
"It is hard for me to understand what first steps Russia expects from us," he said. Erdogan claimed he would like to "normalize relations with Russia" but he does not understand "how it happened President Putin sacrificed very good relations between the two countries to just one mistake made by an air pilot."
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "Turkey is obliged to apologize and compensate for the losses that were incurred by that criminal act, by that war crime," referring to the downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish fighter jet.
Relations between the two countries worsened sharply after Turkish warplanes on November 24, 2015 downed Russia’s Sukhoi-24 bomber over Syria. Its pilot, Oleg Peshkov, was killed by militants while descending by parachute.
Ankara said the Russian plane had violated Turkey’s air space. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the plane had been over Syrian territory all the time and there was no violation of the Turkish border. Putin then warned that the attack against the bomber would have the direst consequences for bilateral relations. On November 28 he signed a special decree enhancing the protection of national security and Russian citizens and on special economic sanctions against Turkey.
Russia’s stance in relation to Turkey remains unchanged: Ankara is obliged to apologize and compensate for the losses caused by the attack on the Russian plane on November 24, 2015. There have been no apologies from Ankara so far.