Turkey Arrests Pilots Who Shot Down Russian Warplane, as Erdogan Says He Is Ready To Cooperate with Iran
July 19, 2016 (EIRNS)—Despite the coup, Turkey is moving ahead in the rapprochement process with Russia, and is ready to cooperate with Russia and Iran in the Syrian peace process.
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag confirmed that two Turkish pilots who shot down the Russian warplane over Syria in November 2015 are in custody, among those arrested for taking part in the failed July 15 coup. Their arrest and prosecution was one of Russia’s demands for full restoration of ties. The other demand to which Erdogan has acceded was an apology by him, which was delivered a few weeks ago. Russia had also demanded the arrest of the man who killed the Russian pilot on the ground. This, too, has been done. The most important Russian demand, which has not been met yet, is the full closing of the Turkish border with Syria and Iraq, where supplies and fighters are being sent through to the Islamic State and the terrorist opposition to the Syrian government.
Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet in the first week of August, in their first face-to-face meeting since the rapprochement.
Erdogan held a telephone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday in which he said Turkey is ready to work towards restoration of peace and stability in the region along with Russia and Iran.
"Today, we are determined more than ever before to contribute to the solution of regional problems hand in hand with Iran and Russia and in cooperation with them,"
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Erdogan as saying. Erdogan informed Rouhani about the situation in Turkey, saying,
"At present, the situation is getting back to normal but it is too early to say that everything is over."
For his part, Rouhani said:
"Stability and tranquility in Turkey have a positive impact on the atmosphere in the whole region. We have no doubt that tranquility in the Islamic world countries does not suit terrorists and some superpowers."
He added that the past days had shown who Turkey’s friends or enemies were, both at home and abroad.
It should be noted that it was Putin who was the first major head of state to call Erdogan and offer his support after the coup attempt, and it now seems that Rouhani is the second. President Barack Obama has yet to call him.