Turkey: Sorry not sorry for shooting your plane
It's summer time.
Russian tourism to Turkey in May 2016 was down 91.82 percent year-on-year, according to figures released by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, the RBC newspaper reported Tuesday.
In November 2015, Russian authorities banned the sale of package tours to Turkey and stopped all flights between the two countries, while also introducing a raft of economic sanctions. This followed the shooting down of a Russian warplane by the Turkish military over the Syrian-Turkish border earlier that month. The measures have led to the almost total collapse of the Russian market for the Turkish tourism industry.
Ankara sought to repair Russian-Turkish relations this week with a personal letter from President Erdogan to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The letter apologized for shooting down the Russian jet in November 2015 and offered “deepest condolences” to the pilot’s family, the Kremlin reported Monday.
Wait what? Apologies?
According to the statement, President Vladimir Putin received a letter from Erdogan in which the Turkish president expressed his willingness to improve relations between the two countries and apologized for the downing of the bomber.
Last month, the Turkish president said that he wanted to improve ties with Russia but didn't know how. Moscow repeatedly said that better relations could only be achieved if Turkey apologized for the incident but Ankara refused to do it at that time.
A great story. It doesn't just trade on Putin's image as a strong leader who gets what he wants but it also deftly reinforces Moscow's patience and grace -- itself a kind of strength.
Did it actually happen?
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.
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.
It's well played. Putin gets his apology and Erdogan gets to not apologize, and the tourist season isn't over yet.