‘Turkey realizing it has been following wrong path in Syrian conflict’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan © Kayhan Ozer
As the Turkish president has apologized for the death of a Russian pilot whose jet was downed over Syria in November last year, RT discussed with experts the timing of the apology and its possible impact on relations between Ankara and Moscow.

READ MORE: Erdogan apologizes to Putin over death of Russian pilot, calls Russia ‘friend & strategic partner’

RT: What do you make of this apology?

John Wight: I think it reflects the way that Turkey has become engulfed in terrorist attacks that are threatening its security and its stability. The ongoing conflict in Syria: We know for a fact the Turkish government or at least a significant section within the Turkish government – the security apparatus, intelligence - have been dancing with the devil when it comes to the Syrian conflict and its association with so-called opposition groups, allowing its borders to be used as a revolving door to allow men and material to pass and end up in Syria. There has been a level of cooperation, there have been allegations and proof that stolen oil has been transported from ISIS-held areas through Turkey and onwards to customers on the black market, which is allowing ISIS to sustain itself through the last couple of years. This is a very significant gesture on the part of the Turkish government moving beyond the fact that it admits guilt over the shooting down of this aircraft, which was flying in Syrian airspace. It also suggests that Turkey is realizing that it has been following the wrong path when it comes to the Syrian conflict.

'Turkish tourism in free fall'

RT:
Seven months have passed since the incident.  Is the timing of this apology significant?

Marwa Osman: Of course, it’s summer. And if it is summer in Turkey and there are no Russian tourists, then it’s a big blow to the Turkish tourism. We are talking about 4.4 million Russian tourists per year which have been lost after the ties were broken between Ankara and Moscow after the jet was downed by the Turkish military. So, now Erdogan is under heavy fire and criticism from the businessmen, from the touristic sector inside of Turkey and he is also pressured with the economy, it is falling down. You see that every one dollar equals three Turkish liras, which is not very well for the economy, nor for the Turkish public as well. So, now is perfect timing for him or else he will just keep on falling with the economy and it won’t be looking good. In addition to the economy, there is also the military factor, the war that is going on in Syria, which is threatening now more than ever to spill over into Turkey.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.