Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said now:
- he is “saddened” by the downing of a Russian combat jet by Turkish forces on the Syrian border last week.
- he wished the” incident had not happened and hoped it would not happen again.”
But he still refused to officially apologize to Russia.
Russian President Putin signed a decree of economic sanctions against Turkey, including a ban on all imports, a freeze of Turkish companies in Russia and Turkish nationals working for Russian companies and the stop of all charter flights between the countries.
But still Turkey and Russia have five special economical interests:
- Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner.
- Both agreed on the Turkish Stream Project. A new pipeline to carry Russian gas to Turkey, and to the European market. To replace the South Stream project, which was supposed to run through Ukraine but was canceled last year.
- Turkey is the second largest buyer of Russia’s natural gas.
- Russia is also building Turkey’s first nuclear power station, located in Mersin. Construction started in April, expected to be completed by 2020. Russia will finance the USD 22 billion project and operate the plant. Gives Ankara the option for its own A-bomb, after Iran goes nuclear.
- More than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey last year.
And there are more reasons to get over the tensions quickly:
- Both want to defeat radical ISIS (IS, Daesh) in Syria and Iraq. But Russia with, and Ankara without Assad.
- Putin now open to stop attacks on Turkey’s allies in Syria and focus on ISIS.
- Pressure from Washington and the EU not to counter the Vienna-process with Moscow.
- The downing of the jet was caused by mismanagement on both sides.