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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Putin and Erdogan Make Up in Istanbul, To a Point

Putin and Erdogan Make Up in Istanbul, To a Point

by Dorian Jones
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan are keen to demonstrate their political friendship is back on track. But behind the smiles and shared jokes during their October 10 meeting in Istanbul, the rivalries that caused relations to nosedive remain.
Putin used Istanbul’s hosting of the World Energy Congress as the venue for his first visit to Turkey since Turkish jets shot down a Russian bomber operating from Syria last November. Prior to the shootdown incident, the two countries had managed to compartmentalize their support of rival sides in the Syrian civil war, and had managed to expand economic and political relations.
After a four-hour meeting in Istanbul’s ornate Yildiz Palace, the two leaders announced that they were ready to put the shootdown behind them, and try again. “Today has been a full day with President Putin of discussing Russia-Turkish relations,” Erdogan declared, speaking at a joint news conference. “I have full confidence that the normalization of Turkish-Russian ties will continue at a fast pace.”
The most visible sign of robust trade ties is the $11-billon Turkish Stream gas pipeline. The 900-kilometer pipeline circumventing Ukraine will deliver gas to Turkey under the Black Sea and, potentially, onward to European markets. Putin announced the project in December 2014 during a state visit to Ankara. At the time, he raised eyebrows around the world by describing Turkey as a “strategic partner.”

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