After talking a blue streak about using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to prevent the Black Sea from turning into a “Russian lake,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s June 27 letter of “condolences” to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the downing of a Russian fighter jet took many by surprise. Yet in the wake of the fatal June 28 terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, it appears that Turkey now believes it needs cooperation more than confrontation with Moscow.
The two broke off diplomatic relations after Turkey shot down a Russian military jet near the Turkish-Syrian border in November 2015, leading to the death of one Russian pilot. Moscow long had demanded an apology, while Ankara refused to apologize for, in its words, defending its own border. Consequently, Russia, a prime trade partner, put a freeze on energy projects with Turkey, banned Turkish fruit-and-vegetable imports and restricted tourism.
But, now, after speaking with Erdoğan by phone, Putin told his government on June 29 that talks on reconciliation would begin.
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.