ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Turkey announced a mending of fences with Russia with the establishment of joint military, intelligence and diplomacy procedures.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Turkey’s official Anadolu News Agency Wednesday that government ministers will travel to St. Petersburg to negotiate closer military and intelligence ties with Russia. His announcement came the day after Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met to reset relations between the two countries.
“The officials will go to St. Petersburg tonight,” Cavusoglu said. “Our delegation will consist of foreign ministry [personnel], the Turkish Armed Forces, along with our intelligence chief.”
A November 2015 incident, in which a Russian fighter plane was shot down near Turkey’s Syrian border, killing the pilot, soured the relationship between Russia and Turkey and led to economic embargoes.
The renewed interest in closer ties with Russia comes as Turkey, a NATO member, has expressed its displeasure with with the Western bloc. It has sought increased installation of NATO defense armaments, and hoped its NATO alignment would ease its entry into the European Union, but has not had success.
The EU largely offered criticism of Erdogan’s response in the wake of a failed coup attempt in July. Although a turn to Russia can be seen as a rebuff to NATO, Cavusoglu downplayed the approach.
“Turkey wanted to cooperate with NATO members up to this point,” he told Anadolu, “but the results we got did not satisfy us. Therefore, it is natural to look for other options. But we don’t see this as a move against NATO.”
He added several of those involved in shooting down the Russian plane been been arrested.
“Some of the pilots who were involved in the downed Russian jet incident are remanded in custody right now,” Cavosoglu said. “This is because of the allegation of being a member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, not because they were involved in the incident. The judiciary will look into the case in every aspect and evaluate.”
Putin, prior to meeting with Erdogan Tuesday, said the visit “means that all us want the dialogue to be resumed and ties to be restored in the interests of the people of Turkey and Russia.”
Earlier, Putin commented, “I am certain that a new page in Russian-Turkish relations will be opened.”
Russia has been cautious about its military role in Syria, seeking a quick resolution to, and exit from, the civil war in which it supports President Bashar al-Assad. Having neighboring Turkey as an ally could be an advantage, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.